Magical Familiars and learning

Thanks, I guess. What is clear to me is that even with the errata, we as a community do not agree on what the rules mean. I see several different reasonable interpretations. Sound slike something I should keep in mind to ask a story guide when joining a game.

That's actually fairly useful as well.
Identifying problematic rules allows you to bring it up with SG/Troup and decide how things work at this table.

I know we have a fairly extensive page of house clarifications, mostly regarding reputations. :-/

Ars is a game of negotiation and contracts. No, really, it is. And it's constant negotiation. I've seen concepts introduced that could pretty much undo the need for a character, or make something that another character has been doing effectively impossible moving forward. All from reasonable interpretations of the rules.

As an SG, I often fail to communicate the things I understand well, certainly not well and in advance. HRs attempt to mitigate this, somewhat, and I've been working on my comprehensive list of house rules.

There is sufficient room within the RAW to really ratchet down on power levels. I think I made a comment or two about this in the Simple but Huge house rules thread. This is one of those areas where it's important that everyone be on the same page, and that there be a HR clarifying it, if not.

I've somewhat explained my rationale for keeping lower might creatures in play as familiars. Akriloth has explained his position, that higher might creatures are rarer, which I don't disagree with, but I think magi should be more than capable of finding them, because they are magi.

As I said, it's subjective. Even deciding the prevalence of high might creatures is more Art than science. So, from the SG's perspective, I'd rather let the magi have what they want, but but with them knowing the costs of what they want. You want a high might familiar? Sure. It's going to be expensive in Vis upkeep, or you will have to teach it (HR allowing a magus to teach without XP penalty). It's a simple but effective control on familiar power, and I don't have to get involved heavily in designing it, since I just take a high level view of the familiar and consider if the powers are appropriate/thematic to the creature. I'm a lazy SG.

I've got a familiar who makes other people better hunters, and another familiar that is an excellent spy. Combat for familiars is dangerous, because you're one defense botch away from being without a lab assistant. shudder

I like my players, too, and I like my SG. It's not really about like, it's about being lazy (see above) and forcing players to make tough choices rather than have me make all the decisions. In the event another player steps up and plays the familiar, I don't really need to be involved in their decision about the powers it has and design it.

I think that works better if another player is playing the familiar. If I'm doing it as an SG, it's uncomfortably close to me saying now you can't have a high might familiar. :smiley:

I personally have no issue with either solutions. I don't mind magical/immortal familiar being able to learn, but I also like the trade-off that a magus has to make between selecting a mundane familiar vs a magical one.

I think it is one of these instances where rules do not really need to answer this question clearly, and let each SG decide what is best for his saga.
Amongst the various RAW issues, there are some which need to be resolved because they would have an impact on the background or the structure of the Order.

Example: the discussion about Ritual magic, botch and Aegis. If one decide that ritual is always cast in stressful situation and mastery cannot do anything about it, there will be consequence in the paradygm: every year a few covenants have major issues, specialist in Aegis, with numerous level of mastery are highly prized and their services are at a premium m- maybe even a Mystery can be found around. Another reading would be that a single level of mastery, with casting in relaxed conditions is enough to prevent any risk of botch. (David Chart answered this question by the way).

In this case, I don't think either ruling will have an impact on the Order that will affect the world around. So I would go with the option of leaving these rules open to interpretation, to give SG more tools to play in their Saga.

Option one: Immortal familiar can learn without limit as long as they are bound.
Story seeds: Some powerful familiars are seeking magi which seems worthy of the companionship in exchange of the ability to keep learning. Or to learn new thing. What kind of secret such familiar knows ? Maybe certain house forbid immortal familiar because of the risk of leaking sensitive information (Tremere for their strategy, Verditius for sharing secret techniques).
When the news of the death of a powerful, yet controversial magus starts to spread, various groups go on the hunt for his familiar. To silence him, or to pry secret on his Hermetic breakthrough... until the Quaesitors steps in saying that the magus might be in Twilight, so 2 consecutive tribunals have to pass before the familiar can be touch otherwise charge of depriving a magus from his powers will be brought...
To push the envelop further, what if some Houses, or even the Order was really controlled by a group of powerful familiars, some descending from the Founders.
What if Bonisagus manage his breakthrough only because of his familiar ?
Maybe at each Tribunal, there are some familiars put to auction (of course, their owner needs to earn their trust and friendship afterwards, that's an entirely different matter).
In this case, why would a magus ever bound a mundane animal ? Would there be a social stigma attached to it (maybe a new minor flaw) ?
Can a familiar share knowledge from his previous master's discovery ? What kind of bonus (similar to owning a lab text seems excessive, it is unlikely that the familiar has editic memory) ?

Option two: Immortal familiar must abide to the XP rules for magical creature.
Familiar becomes another sign of distinction for a magus, somehow heralding what kind of magus he is. A mundane familiar will be more sought by intensive lab researcher, or as additional "tools". A powerful, magical familiar will be sought for those needing a immediately effective companion for their adventures.
It is not impossible that certain secret techniques are developped to allow a magus to release his familiar, without consequence for both, would the interest or need of the magus change. This practice would probably been frown upon, yet cannot be forbidden (but may be some magi want some rulings in the Peripherical code ?).
Seeing a Bonisagus with a magical familiar is quite a sign of status: how much virtus does he need to feed his familiar ?
Maybe as part of bluff or intimidation, some magi might disguise their familiar to appear mundane or magical for decades to prepare a nasty surprise or avoid being victim of a Wizard's War ?

So for me, it is really a matter of troupe's approval, since the real issue is more about game balance between players but does not seem to be world-breaking.

Usually the lifetime of a familiar - no matter its might - is roughly linked to that of its magus. If a magus dies suddenly, his familiar experiences a shock which will turn it into a very bad source of information about its master.
You can change that IYC, of course.