New familiar: behold the magnificent Smew!

I've been giving some thought to find a familiar for my Aquam-focused maga, so I was thinking of various waterfowl; seeing as our covenant is located in the Theban Tribunal, I was hoping to find something local. In my researches, I came upon the smew, a lovely variety of sea duck (I had no idea such things existed!).

I am quite taken with this little bird, especially the males who are quite striking, but I have a couple of questions I'm trying to muddle through.

  1. What sort of Technique would one use to bind a smew, much less any duck? They don't really build much (smews tend to use old woodpecker holes), they aren't really hunters (though sea ducks do eat fish) and the other ones don't quite seem to apply either. My maga's two best Techniques are Creo and Rego, but both seem like a bit of a stretch.

  2. What sort of stats would a duck have? Size -3 is canon in HoH: MC, but the only other bird stats I know of are for raptors, which are all wrong. Like most ducks, smews are migratory, so some sort of Virtue for endurance flight or direction sense seems logical, but otherwise I'm stumped.

More smew facts.

Note: My maga is a Tremere; if anyone even THINKS of making fun of her smew, she will riddle the blackguard with ice arrows! :smiley:

Well, you could take a look at what medieval bestiaries had to say about ducks.

Not much to go on, but "constancy in swimming" makes Rego sound like less of a stretch?

Good catch Andrew! They make fun of the maga smew, only to discover it gives her rapid fatigue recovery as a natural power!

(I thought you meant the thing where they can breathe through their...erm...buttocks.)

Taking the tone down,


Good catch Andrew! They make fun of the maga smew, only to discover it gives her rapid fatigue recovery as a natural power!

(I thought you meant the thing where they can breathe through their...erm...buttocks.)

Taking the tone down,


Awesome link, Andrew! I'll have to bookmark that site for later use.

That website also lists this interesting tidbit: "The ducks of Pontus feed on the poison in the sea, and so cannot be eaten. The blood of such ducks is useful as an ingredient in antidotes." The smew is a sea duck, so an argument could be made that perhaps it also eats poison, and as it's blood is an antidote, maybe Creo? Pontus is in Anatolia (Trebizond in 1217 when our saga is set), so it's not too far away.

I missed the section in Mystery Cults that goes into a bit more detail about animals; it's my least favorite of the HoH books (sorry!) and I'm the least familiar with it. Enduring Constitution, Long-Winded or both make sense for a migratory bird; my experience with ducks is that they're somewhat timid, unlike their mean-spirited brethren the goose and swan, so Noncombatant might work as a Flaw. Anyone ever been attacked by a duck? Maybe I'm wrong.

I haven't but I friend of mine was (I was standing 5 feet away).
It was near a tourist attraction though, and we theorized that it was really just asking him why he wasn't feeding it.

in case anyone is wondering, be wasn't badly hurt - or indeed hurt at all, just surprised.

Going through the Realm Magic book, it would be simple enough to mix and match the qualities to come up with the smew. Even the powers and affinities seem fairly straight forward. A hefty Rego and Aquam (or even Auram since it is a migratory bird, for that matter Intelligo could work as well) would seem very appropriate, and would work well for your maga.

Also the Bjorny section does a pretty quick and easy job of describing the making of a animal. I just went through it and I will send you the basics that it gives. I do like the idea that it is a duck of virtue though! Hhahahah If you can get it past the gatling-guns then you might be able to give it some cool aspects or powers! Hah but a duck helping in the lab will be as funny as my swan helping Philo in the lab! Though given you lab location... and the smew does nest in cliffsides I think... good pick!

University of Essex, 2004. I learned to fear ducks and swans. They had a pond in campus, and you couldn't approach it nor cross the path of the ducks when they were on land or they would flock on you and peck on you. Quite scary!

Not even talking about sitting by a lake with my girlfriend when the swans had bred there. A Swan with its wins spread and rised neck is higher than a sitting person, I tell you. THen the ducks prusued me to my house. Never approached the lakes again.

So if you go for noncombatant give them ferocity when protecting territory and kin. IMS at least.


I think I have found my familiar for my Tytalus shipbuilder/sailor magus.

Thanks for the field report, Xavi! I know from personal experience how scary swans and geese can be, but most of my encounters with ducks have been pretty passive; nice to know they have a bit of fight in them!

Ducks are very useful creatures to shapeshift into, and also versatile as familiars, because they fly long distances, swim AND dive underwater, making them great for explorers and travellers. Given their endurance and hardiness to cold, I'd say they had decent stamina as well.

Forgive this aside, but when I first read the title of this thread I thought of shmoos, now smew.
A shmoo would make an interesting familiar, until the magus got hungry.

Matt Ryan