The following can be used either to replace existing familiar creation rules or as an alternative available to magi.
What this offers:
- Provides new benefits for magi who take normal animals as familiars rather than exotic beasts with as high a Might Score as their Lab Total allows.
- Uses rules for mundane animals rather that creature creation rules from RoP:M.
The normal rules for generating familiars - time required, Lab Totals, etc - are the same, except as follows:
A candidate familiar is a mundane animal without Might, though probably associated with the Magic Realm in some way. The animal might be found on a quest, but a favored pet or an animal that has made its nest or lair in the magus' lab is also a likely choice.
The familiar's statistics are the same as those for the normal animal, except that +1 is added to all of its Characteristics other than Int. This boost represents either that the binding process which brings the familiar closer to the Magic Realm also brings it closer to the ideal for that animal, or that the chosen animal was already superior.
The familiar gains xps equal to twice the difference between the magus' actual Lab Total for binding the familiar and the required Binding Total. The magus spends these xps immediately on the familiar's behalf, either on Abilities that the magus has up to the magus' scores in those Abilities, or to improve Abilities that the familiar already has without limit. Xps cannot be assigned to Supernatural Abilities that require a virtue the familiar lacks.
The Bond is enchanted with one or more effects whose total level is no greater than the difference between the magus' actual Lab Total for binding the familiar and the required Binding Total. No extra time or vis beyond that which is necessary to bind the familiar is needed, but the magus must have sufficient Lab Total to enchant each effect within a single season.
When a magus whose Lab Total has improved spends a season to retemper the Cords, the familiar gains new xps to be spent based on the difference between the current and previous Lab Total, and more free effects can be enchanted into the Bond based on the difference between the magus' current Lab Total and the total level of the free effects previously enchanted into the Bond.
That's it. Small familiars retain their advantages. Exotic familiars can still be bound if the canonical rules are used alongside these, but a more ordinary familiar that starts its career with Magic Theory and bespoke Bond effects offers an attractive alternative.