Spirit Familiars: an option for Basic Fantasy RPG PCs.

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Spirit Familiars: an option for Basic Fantasy RPG PCs.

Post Wed Nov 23, 2016 3:38 am

A so far loose concept I am hammering out as a feature for the campaign setting I am doing. I wanted to move away from how familiars are done and handled in D20 SRD.


Spirit familiars are beings bonded to the player character they are called into existing by. Unlike the familiars as described in the D20 SRD, spirit familiars are not animals. They are spirit entities, which take on an animal like appearance that they semi physically manifest as. A spirit familiar is not a free willed, sentient, being, they are projections of a character’s core traits given a form. The how and why of such should be determined by the setting and character’s background and game master approval.

Players and game masters should work together to determine what traits, and any abilities a spiritual familiar might possess. However it is recommended that they be no more than one or two non combat abilities, and that they largely remain incorporeal or physically inconsequential in their forms (i.e., do not have hit points or direct attacks), and that they fit the character’s personality and background. This is suggested to make the spirit familiar distinct from animal/monster companions/familiars, and also make them less complicated to manage, i.e., essentially not doubling a player’s book keeping and choice making in combat and such by making them manage what amount to two separate characters.

Example one, A witch’s cat;

A player character is a cleric, who builds on the aspects of a Hedge Witch. As the character is borrowing heavily from various images of western witchcraft practice, they choose to have the character’s familiar take a form like that of a black cat, entirely made of shadow with no visible features beyond it’s ink black silhouette. Working with the GM, the familiar is determined to grant the character two abilities. Detect sources of sickness and disease within one hundred feet (including ‘carrieres’ if being spread by rodents, or insects, or the like). And the ability to ‘sniff out’ medicinal plants much more quickly, and accurately, than would normally be possible (if such plants exist within two miles of the character, they will be able to find it in half the usual time needed to forage for it). As a trade off, the character receives a five percent increase needed in experience to advance a level in their class.

Example two, an occultist’s serpent;

The player character’s concept is a magic-user that is a part of an occultist society, which seeks to uncover ancient wisdom. After completing a circle ritual with fellow practitioners, the character was able to call forth a ‘tulpa’, which takes the form of a translucent gold and silver scaled viper which usually stays coiled about the magic user’s arm. The magic user now finds they are better able to see through false realities (plus one save against any illusion and its effects per three levels of magic user). They also find that they can have strong intuitions about when some sort of deception is being attempted on them (Realizes they are being lied by someone as it is spoken on a 5 or more d6 roll). As a trade off, the character receives a ten percent increase needed in experience to advance a level in the magic user class.
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