Endless Blue – Week 72 – Underwater Familiars   Leave a comment

Zoology

Underwater Familiars

In all the ways life in the Endless Blue differs from a standard fantasy world, some things stay the same.  One of those constants is the old wizard’s staple of possessing an animal magically linked to them — a familiar.  A familiar is a magical beast that aids a spellcaster in their practice of magic.  The animal and the mage form a powerful bond between them that grants special abilities, most notably the ability to communicate with each other.  This bond is by mutual agreement, and the intimacy of the master/familiar relationship is too vivid and personal to be shared with anything less than total consent.

A familiar can be one of many species, and that species usually has some kind of meaning to the spellcaster — the animal reflects their personality, or their philosophy, or even in some cases their race.  In return, the animal’s body, intelligence, and resistances are bolstered by the master.  This is a symbiotic relationship that grows as the two age and learn from experience.  A familiar is an equal, not a servant, and is usually afforded special treatment by the spellcaster as his “favorite”.

Familiars should optimally be of a size that will fit into the bowl of its master’s cupped palms.  Now, what would fit into an Orcan wizard’s hands would overflow those of a Mer, and the equally spaced fingers of Lumulan hands makes an odd shape bowl.  But these are general guidelines to judge on a singular basis taking a character’s size into account.  Generally, a familiar should be a Tiny sized creature, easily held or carried by the spellcaster.

The following lists the ENDLESS BLUE RPG specific benefits of having a type of familiar.  Otherwise, follow the rules for familiars as presented in the Player’s Handbook.

Anglerfish grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Bluff checks.
Armored Snail/Ammonite grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Diplomacy checks.
Caiman grants a +3  bonus to its master’s Search checks, and is a [Progenitor] familiar.
Cichlid (Angelfish) grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Swim checks, and is a [Progenitor] familiar.
Crustacean bestows an additional +3 Hit points to its master, and is a [Progenitor] familiar.
Cuttlefish grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Disguise checks, and is a [Progenitor] familiar.
Eel grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Spot checks, and is a [Progenitor] familiar.
Glassfish/Icefish grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Craft checks.
Icarfish grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Appraise checks.
Jellyfish grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Escape Artist checks.
Lamprey grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Intimidate checks.
Leafy Seadragon grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Hide checks.
Salamander grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Sense Motive checks, and is a [Progenitor] familiar.
Sea Cucumber grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Listen checks.
Sea Spider grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Spot checks.
Sea Turtle bestows a +1 bonus to its master’s Natural AC, and is a [Progenitor] familiar.
Skate grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Move Silently checks.
Trilobite grants a +3 bonus to its master’s Survival checks.

Progenitor Familiars:  This is a class of familiar that, when paired with a master of similar lineage, grants additional benefits.  These species (and their matching piscean race) are as follows:

Caiman (Sahaguin)
Cichlid (Locanth)
Crustacean (Lumulus)
Cuttlefish (Ceph)
Eel (Yaun-Teel)
Salamander (Kouton)
Sea Turtle (Chelon)

Notably lacking are an Orcan and Mer analog.  In the case the Orcans, there is no cetacean relative of a small enough size that would serve as a familiar.  Even the domesticated delphiz — Packbreeder-bred dolphins known for their loyalty and friendliness — are too large, and would make a better animal companion than a familiar.  As for the Mer, there is no known species of animal that matches their distinct shape.

The benefit of having a Progenitor Familiar is that they can act as a free hand when the master uses actions that require more than one hand..  For example, if a spellcaster held a dagger in one hand, yet needed both hands free to cast a spell, a progenitor familiar can act as that second free hand.  A more exacting example would be a Lumulan wizard’s crustacean familiar can aid in reloading a coil-tech weapon without the master incurring a penalty.  The drawback is the familiar becomes vulnerable during this activity to free attacks.  A successful attack on the familiar will spoil whatever job it was attempting.

Familiar Popularity and Infamy

Progenitor familiars are a popular choice for piscean spellcasters of the same stock, but it does not mean that Locanthic sorcerers will only choose a cichlid familiar.  Society plays a part in species selection as well.  The secretive culture of the Kouton would make a salamander a good choice for a non-Kouton spellcaster that lives in the Bay of Kouton.  It is a sign of stature in the Mer Currents to have pets and familiars of exotic origin, and many eschew choosing the more common types as a way of adding to their image.  Chelon aristocracy tout the lineage of their familiars, which is generally difficult to prove if you happen to posses a familiar that reproduces through spawning without strict documentation.

Cuttlefish were once the most common familiar in the Known World.  Their dexterity and intelligence made them great boons to early spellcasters.  However, since the Kraken Occupation and subsequent collapse of the Kraken Empire, the utilization of cuttlefish as a familiar has wanned.  Mostly driven by bigotry and resentment, wizards that had cuttlefish familiars faced persecution not unlike that the Ceph have suffered (though not nearly of the same intensity).  It would take the most misanthropic of sorcerers today to willingly call a cuttlefish to their service.  Despite this, cuttlefish are a common choice for Ceph wizards.

Icarfish is another rarely utilized familiar.  These fish are relatively common across Elqua, but are usually treated negatively due to their habit of breaking the surface of the water and “swimming in the Vastness”.  Those that have flying fish as familiars are frequently viewed as satanic, and are servants of the abominations that terrorize the world above the waves.  The religious bias towards flying fish is so intense that many rural, superstitious pisceans will kill the animals on sight, desecrating their remains as thoroughly as possible.  Flying fish are never considered “viable fish” for poaching or hunting.  Those individuals firmly entrenched in the Godless philosophy sometimes choose icarfish as a sign of defiance.

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