Expanded Familiar Rules


Familiars are a part of the life of many magi. They shape their and/or reflect their personality and style, they share their life in the lab and magical experiences, and share a life long spiritual connection that transcends mortal companionship. This was the intention of Merinita, the Founder, who contributed these mysteries to Hermetic magic so that magi would retain a connection to bind them to the mortal world. So incorporated is this knowledge that most magi do not realize this was originally a mystery.

Since then, the meaning and use of the familiar bond has taken divergent paths. Most magi follow what has been naturally integrated into Hermetic Magic (as reflected in these modified rules). Bjornaer magi never integrated these mysteries into their magic, instead seeking the Heartbeast within (Having No Familiar without Heartbeast would be greater than a Minor Flaw, but then Heartbeast wile still having a Familiar would be greater than a Minor Virtue; simply put, the two magics are incompatible). The followers of Merinita have distorted the mysteries with Faerie Cords. Criamon magi rely on their Familars to rescue them from long Twilight episodes, but they have also developed a Quality for Familiars to be able to enhance their transcendental experiences. The system Merinta herself devised was similar to the way a Folk Witch is able to bind a familiar, with the inclusion of Bond scores and Qualities (see below). Magi have developed new Qualities in the years since (which counts as a Minor Breakthrough), and other modifications have been made. But there are still a few secrets Merinita left out, ether because of work unfinished or deliberate omission, and other mysteries uncommon or rare which pertain to Familiars.

Finding a Familiar

Finding an appropriate creature to bond with is always a momentous benchmark in the life of a magus. But many times in play, *because* it is such a momentous occasion, it is often hand-waved or skipped. Some player magi benefit from what virtually amounts as a gift from the gods, or they act as if they had the No Familiar Flaw when they don't have to. It is not necessary to make a long drawn out quest to find a familiar. This can be especially excruciating in long drawn-out sagas or PbP gaming. It can be handled with a short little story, played as a one-night session or written out by the player. It doesn't have to be intense or occupy more than a week of their time. The story should be memorable, something the magus and familiar can reminisce about in later days. But it need not be a life changing experience, binding with the familiar will be that in and of itself. This is much better than hand-waving the free discovery of an appropriate familiar, but even that simple solution is preferable to missing out on the benefits and opportunities a familiar provides when you are not so restricted.

Choosing the right animal is important. In game, the character may have desired a specific animal, or the animal chose him. It may or may not have been a deliberate decision. But out of game, this is your personal fictional character design, and your shared fictional fantasy world. You and the other players have the power of creativity to decide what sort of familiar you will have. The input of the troupe and storyguide is important, for it is they who will set the parameters of power and adjudicate application of the rules.

The qualifications for a potential familiar are simple, "…an animal with inherit magic". The beast is likely to have a Magic Might score, but this is not mandatory. It is possible to bind an animal possessing some magical or supernatural virtue or flaw. Whatever the case, design what this creature was like when you met, before binding together. That is, determine the beast's Characteristics, Virtues, Flaws, Might, Magical Qualities & Inferiorities, Abilities, Personality, etcetera. Once this has been reviewed and approved by the troupe, and the story of how you met played out (or written up and approved), you may bring the animal to your lab and begin a series of rituals and enchantments that forge the Familiar Bond.

Familiar Virtues & Flaws

The following are Supernatural Virtues and Flaws that pertain to potential Familiars. Some are new, others modified or referenced from different sources. Supernatural Familiar Virtues & Flaws may be taken as Qualities or Inferiorities, and possessing any of them as Virtues or Flaws qualifies the beast as having inherit magic even if it does not possess a Might score.

Beast of Virtue
Major or Minor Supernatural Virtue
This Virtue must and can only be taken by a Beast of Virtue, possessing Magic Might, that is being designed as an potential Familiar. All beasts of Virtue normally must take an Essential Virtue, Major or Minor, as a Magic Quality. Familiars take this instead, as a Virtue or a Quality, and receive the Essential Virtue as a free part of this (the equivalent value determining the value of this Virtue). A Beast of Virtue is highly receptive to the binding enchantment, granting a bonus to your Lab Total for activities involving forging and enchanting the bond (+1 if this is a Minor Virtue, +3 if this is Major).

Minor Supernatural Virtue
The beast is a combination of two or more creatures, such as a Griffon (lion & eagle) or an Owlbear (bear & owl). Design the beast as if it were the Primary creature, but combining the Natural Qualities of both. As a finishing touch, add +1 to a Physical Characteristic. There is no disguising that the creature is supernatural, and may cause fear amongst mundanes.

Hermetic Familiar
Free Social Status Virtue
A beast being designed as a Familiar must choose this Social Status instead of the other magic related Social Status Virtues & Flaws from RoP-Magic. In fact, Familiars may not choose them, they choose this one instead.

Magic Blood
Minor Supernatural Virtue
This Virtue from RoPm (p.46) is a rare prize to find in a potential Familiar. An animal of Magic Animal Blood might be descended from a Beast of Virtue or a legendary mythic beast. This Virtue bestows a +1 Characteristic Bonus. An animal with Magic Human Blood will have a singular human trait, such as sentient Intelligence or an odd physical feature (such as a face).

Warped by Magic
Minor Supernatural Flaw
The creature has been exposed to powerful magic, accruing enough Warping points for a score of 1 and an accompanying Minor Flaw. The animal may optionally have a higher Warping score, with the accompanying side effects. The animal may spend experience point on Magic Lore; even if stupid, for it develops this as a sort of instinct. Warped animals are thought of as sort of the rabble amongst familiars, gaining a negative Reputation score of 1 amongst other familiars to that extent. A warped animal is slightly more attuned to magic than an untainted mundane creature. You add the creatures Warping Score to your Lab Total for activities involving forging and enchanting the bond. However, you also add its Warping to any Botch Dice involving any Laboratory activity that the familiar participates in and/or is the subject of.

Forging the Familiar Bond

The process of forging the bond requires a season of lab activity, as described on p.104 of ArM5. It is important to note a distinction. You are not binding the creature, you are Bonding with it. This is not unlike a marriage, and in fact is so similar is it that a mystery was invented/discovered in the Theban Tribunal creating a variant form of bond to enhance the bond of human matrimony. This has spread to Normandy, where there resides a Flambeau magus named Wirth bound together with his wife. This and other optional ideas are discussed below.

You calculate your Lab Total as normal, using your best Technique & Form scores. Certainly, an animal selected for a familiar would be sympathetic to one or both of these Arts. The bonding process attunes them to both in any case. These Arts must never change, even if you have different scores when you go to retemper the bond. The Bond Level is also calculated as normal, modified by Magic Might and Size, but starting at a base of 25. This is important, for this represents the Inherit Qualities of the Familiar Bond.


As according to the House Rules, Familiar's are not inhibited in gaining experience points when the Source Quality is their magus and/or otherwise involves their magus. Examples include being directly taught or trained, adventuring together, casual exposure xp while working alongside the magus or otherwise closely associating with them, and etcetera.

Bond Qualities

You forge the Familiar Bond in a single season if your Lab Total exceeds the Bond Level. Your full Lab Total, unadjusted by the Level, determines your Bond Score (and in turn your Cord Scores). There are also inherit Bond Qualities calculated into the Base 25 for the Bond Level, and the optional rules presented here allow you to incorporate further Bond Qualities or change existing ones, altering the Bond Level.

Bond Qualities are nothing new and do not involve a Mystery or Breakthrough. It is just that the concept of incorporating and/or altering Bond Qualities is restricted to Advanced Magic Theory, those magi possessing a score of 6 or higher. By then most magi already have a Familiar, so alterations are out of the question. But it is possible to retemper the bond at a higher level to incorporate new Qualities. This also requires the investment of vis to account for the adjusted level (one pawn per five levels of increase). Adding new Qualities is pretty straightforward, adjusting the Bond Level as much as your Lab Total can accommodate. Modifying existing Qualities or incorporating an alternate design when initially forging the bong requires Experimentation.

Minor Bond Qualities add +5 to the level, and Major ones add +15. You may reduce this by also incorporating Negative Qualities, -5 for Minor and -15 for Major. You may never reduce the level by including an imbalance of Negative Qualities. The results must either increase the level or have a zero sum balanced effect. However, this tight balance ends up a detrimental effect in the long run, for there are fewer Negative Qualities than Positive ones, and the penalties Negative Qualities are more severe than the equivalent benefits of Positive Qualities.

Also, as a reminder, the sum of the Quality points provided the Base for the Familiar Bond Level, which is then modified by Magic Might + (5 x Size). The Minimum Base Level is 25, and again, though you can increase it you can never reduce it. Also, each and every Quality, positive and negative, carries with it a cosmetic trait that the pair share with each other.

As for the standard Base of 25, this represents the sum of the Inherit Bond Qualities that are a standard part of the ritual. This includes one Minor Quality and three Major Qualities, plus two Minor Negative Qualities and one Major Negative Quality. This rates Shared True Friendship as a Minor Quality. Then Shared Magic Resistance, Protection from Acclimation, and Wisdom; each as Major Qualities. Then as Negative Qualities; these include Magic Link and Shared Dedication for Minor, then Loss of Immortality for Major. Familiars without Magic Might do not loose Immortality, but needn't fear Acclimation. Thus the standard Base still balances at 25.

If you decide to incorporate Bond Qualities, there are two important considerations. First, there are some Qualities that contain distinct advantages that are similar to example Empowerments described in the main rulebook. But really, as the story goes, those Empowerments were designed to mimic these Qualities which could not be incorporated by young magi or those with powerful familiars (with high might scores). It was the way that magi of previous editions generations did things, but it fell out of fashion. But the distinct advantages may be lucrative to some magi. If so described, they have become a part of their innate Essential Nature, considered always active and requiring no maintenance, nor subject to magical resistance/suppression/cancellation/etc. Some good examples of this are Gift of Speech and Mental Communication.

Second, there are some Qualities that simply and only allow you to invest a single Empowerment to be paired with that Quality. These Powers are controlled by the one that uses them, and they can potentially affect others. However, not only are they limited, but they tend to be slower and have a Might cost required for activation. Fatigue levels can be spent as up to 5 points of Might (no refunds), and Confidence points can be spent as equal to Might. Penetration is based on the Familiar's Might score, minus five times the Might points it costs. No Words or Gestures are required, but it is possible to gain a Penetration bonus from Loud Words & Exaggerated Gestures.

Positive Qualities

(Minor Positive Quality)
The magus can enhance the Bond with Attunements, which grant bonuses to certain magical activities when the familiar is able to assist them. The Attunement must relate to the familiar somehow; one of it's powers, it's Might score, the Bond Arts, an Ability, or whatnot. The value of the bonus varies, increasing as the definition narrows. A good benchmark is as follows: +1 equivalent to an entire Art, +2 equivalent to a Major Focus, +3 equivalent to a Minor Focus. A magus may incorporate multiple different Attunements, and the areas the cover may overlap and have a cumulative effects. Existing Attunements can be improved upon, increasing the bonus by +1 each additional time it is chosen. Remember that each Attunment and improvement is an individual Minor Positive Quality.
Attunments provide a bonus to various magical activities, presuming the Familiar is present &/or involved somehow. This can include spellcasting in the familiar's presence (as long as one can naturally sense the other), it matters not if the Familiar participates or even aware of the spell activity (though many do act as if they are helping somehow). This also applies to Lab activities in which the familiar is assisting. It does not apply to any Lab Activities involving the Familiar bond, but does apply to casting spells upon the Familiar. Attunments have no effect on their Magic Resistance.

(Minor Positive Quality)
The magus and familiar each have a sense of the location of the other, both in terms of direction and distance. They can point their partners location out on a map with an accuracy within a thumb's width, and uncover each other in hiding spots with ease.

Gift of Speech
(Minor Positive Quality)
This grants the familiar the ability to speak in a human voice, if it cannot do so already, sharing all the languages the magus knows. There are several advantages to using a Bond Quality for this, instead of (or even on top of) a regular investment. First off, it is considered a constant and natural effect. It is not subject to magic resistance nor can it be dispelled or disrupted, and it does not require maintenance.

Improved Power
(Minor Positive Quality)
This grants five Mastery Points that can be used to improve various powers. These points can be spent to increase Initiative (+1 per point), reduce cost (-1 per point), increase Potential (one magnitude per point), or purchase a Mastery Ability score (5xp per point). This Quality may be chosen multiple times.

Mental Communication
(Minor Positive Quality)
The magus and familiar can mentally communicate with each other at will; sharing thoughts, images, and emotions. This has advantages over standard Empowerment, in that it is not susceptible to Magic resistance or inhibition, nor does it require maintenance.

Primary Bond Power
(Major Positive Quality)
This allows the Magus to Empower the bond as to grant the Familiar or Magus (or each separately) a specific magic power that falls within the scope of the Technique or the Form used in the Bond Lab Total. The level to be invested equals the exact level of the effect plus levels devoted towards Mastery (every five levels equals1 Mastery point, applicable only to this power). The Might cost equals half the magnitude of the effect, and Initiative equals Quickness minus half the magnitude. This Quality can be added multiple times for different powers.

Secondary Bond Power
(Minor Positive Quality)
This allows the Magus to Empower the bond as to grant the Familiar or Magus (or each separately) a specific magic power which may involve any combination of Arts. The level to be invested equals the exact level of the effect plus levels devoted towards Mastery (every five levels equals1 Mastery point, applicable only to this power). The Might cost equals the magnitude of the effect, and Initiative equals Quickness minus twice the magnitude. This Quality can be added multiple times for different powers.

(Major Positive Quality
The familiar gains the ability to take on human form, and/or the magus can now take on the form of an animal the same species as the familiar (each is a separate Quality). The advantages in this are that this form is not affected by Magic Resistance, the power is controlled by the one it affects, it requires no maintenance, and use is relatively unlimited. To change shape requires a roll of a 9+ on a stress die + Stamina + Concentration. If the roll fails, change requires spending a Fatigue level or 5 points of Might.

Shared Senses
(Major Positive Quality))
The magus and familiar can each use the senses of the other. This requires a Perception + Concentration roll.The roll requires a simple ide if both parties and relaxed and prepared, otherwise it is a stress die. The ease factor is 6+ if you override the sense and they cannot use it while you do, or 9+ if you can both use the sense equally. The effect ends by dropping or breaking Concentration. A botched roll can results in a temporary loss of ability to share that sense or any sense, or even the loss of senses if the botch is severe. This operates differently than the Bond Empowerment of the same name, and though it has drawbacks there are advantages. It is not subject to magic resistance, multiple senses are covered as is two way usage, and uses per day are potentially unlimited.

Sympathetic Bond Power
(Major Positive Quality)
This allows the Magus to Empower the Bond so that the Familiar or Magus (or each separately) can generate spontaneous magical effects using the Arts of the Bond (the Technique & Form used in the Lab Total). The level of the Empowerment equals the maximum potential Level of the effect, plus any levels devoted towards Mastery (every five levels equals one Mastery point, applicable to only this power). In practice, the maximum potential of the effect is capped by the Familiar's Might Score, but this may be expanded via Mastery. The Might cost equals the Magnitude of the manifested effect, and Initiative equals Quickness minus twice that magnitude. This Quality may be chosen twice, once for the Familiar and once for the Magus. It is of no benefit to choose it more than that.

Negative Qualities

Disjointed Magic Resistance
(Major Negative Quality)
The familiar does not benefit from the Form bonus of the magus, and the magus cannot partake in the protection of the Familiar's Magic Might.

(Minor Negative Quality)
The familiar is exceptionally independent, often acting of its own accord upon its own agenda. This is often contrary to the goals and/or desires of the magus, and the pair does not often coordinate their activities. However, they are still True Friends and band together when necessity dictates.

Limited Bond
(Minor Negative Quality)
The range of activation for powers involving one another, which is normally unlimited, is restricted to a range of one being able to detect the other using natural senses. Powers affected include normal Bond Powers controlled by the partner, those that affect each other, or qualities that have a mutual interactive effect. Those qualities and powers which are used by and affect the individual alone are not limited.

Odd Couple
(Major Negative Quality)
The magus and familiar are often at odds, arguing and clashing over issues important and trivial. At times they refuse to speak to one another and occasionally they work against each other. However, they still have compassion for one annother and will support each other in times of need. This is the equivalent of exchanging the True Friend Minor Virtue for the Beloved Rival Minor Flaw.

Susceptible to Acclimation
(Major Negative Quality)
The familiar is vulnerable to Acclimation (if it has Magic Might), thus lacking an inherit positive quality. The vulnerability is the same for other magical creatures who are not familiars, as based on Might and Aura, but this can be affected by further Qualities & Inferiorities of the Magic Realm.

Susceptible to Deprivation
(Minor Negative Quality)
The familiar becomes vulnerable to the effects of Deprivation, requiring both nourishment and rest. This presumes that the familiar is otherwise immune to Deprivation, and has picked up this quality from their magus. Likewise, it is presumed that the magus is themselves naturally prone to Deprivation.

Sympathetic Fatigue
(Minor Negative Quality)
Whenever the magus or familiar looses/spends a Fatigue level, the other must make a Stamina stress roll of 6+ or also loose one (more if the roll botches). The pair almost always sleeps together.

Sympathetic Pain
(Minor Negative Quality)
Whenever either the magus or familiar is in pain from injury or whatnot, the other feels it as well. Whichever of the pair is suffering from the highest penalty, the other is afflicted by the same penalty. The magus and familiar each gain a physical reflex or habit of the other.

Sympathetic Wounds
(Major Negative Quality)
Whenever the magus or familiar suffers injury, the other must make a Stamina stress roll of 6+ or suffer an injury of the same severity (botching worsens severity &/or multiplies wounds). They each take on a fear or defensive reaction of the other, acquiring an appropriate Personality Trait at a score of +3.

Tight Bond
(Major Negative Quality)
As Limited Bond, but having an even more restricted range of the familiar and magus being in physical contact with each other.

Familiar Mysteries

All of the previously described qualities are a standard part of Hermetic Theory. They simply require a high Magic Theory score, and this is an old procedure that has fallen out of vogue. There are further qualities, however, that do indeed require a special Virtue, Mystery, or Breakthrough. The primary examples are Faerie Magic, Spirit Familiar, and Daemonic Familiar. Consider the special aspects of these to be Free Qualities. There are further potential qualities and benefits linked with mysteries & special Virtues, which are detailed as follows.

Enigmatic Braid
(Major Bond Quality, Enigmatic Wisdom)
Those with Enigmatic Wisdom may choose this Quality, which enhances the frequency and effect of Twilight Episodes. The Gold Cord increases the difficulty to Avoid Twilight, the Silver Cord aids the roll to Comprehend Twilight, and the Bronze Cord reduces the accrued Warping Points (after determining the effects).

stuff being worked on

Exchange Virtues
(Major or Minor Positive Quality)
The Magus or the Familiar gains a new Virtue that the other has (or equivalent advantage). The value of this, as a Positive Quality, is equal to the value of the Virtue exchanged (or the relative value of an equivalent advantage). This may be taken multiple times for different Virtues. But before acquiring another Virtue from a partner, that partner must gain a Virtue and they must each exchange a Flaw. It does not matter what order this is done in, and the relative values do not need to match. Just as long as all four examples are met before any repeat. Then again for the second and third time around, and so on.

Shared Confidence

Shared Fatigue
(Major Positive Quality, Folk Witch)
The magus and familiar share a common pool of Fatigue levels. So, for example, if they both have the standard Fatigue ranks, they now share a common pool with two levels in each category (twice as many Fatigue levels). Whenever either looses a Fatigue level, it is drawn from that common pool and they both feel the effects. The magus and familiar each receive a bonus of +3 to all Fatigue rolls.

Shared Protection
(Minor Positive Quality)
The magus and familiar may each choose from the better of the following two calculations for Magic resistance: either the magus' Parma & Form, or the familiar's Might + magus' Form.

Transfer Wounds
(Major Positive Quality)
The magus and familiar each have the power to heal the wounds of the other my mystically transferring the injuries to themselves. This is applied to one injury at a time, and though they can affect each other back and forth, they cannot absorb wounds back that the other has healed.

Exchange Flaws
(Major or Minor Negative Quality)
The Magus or the Familiar gains a new Flaw that the other has (or equivalent disadvantage). The value of this, as a Negative Quality, is equal to the value of the Flaw exchanged (or the relative value of an equivalent disadvantage). This may be taken multiple times for different Flaws. However, before acquiring another Flaw from a partner, that partner must gain a Flaw and they must each exchange a Virtue. It does not matter what order this is done in, and the relative values do not need to match. Just as long as all four examples are met before any repeat. Then again for the second and third time around, and so on..

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