Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Otter, Pig & Raccoon

So you like your familiars inquisitive, personable, and with a mix of adorable, engaging, almost human-like traits?  Then you want an otter (especially for river or water-based campaigns) or a raccoon (for more woody or urban encounters). 

Of course, a pig is more intelligent than either of those two, and you get to relive your fantasies of being Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper, from The Black Cauldron.  (I know that’s been at the top of your bucket list.)  And who couldn’t use +3 to Diplomacy? 

Then again, putting much mystical stock in a winter’s worth of walking bacon may not be the best idea in pseudo-medieval world…

Spellcasters with otter familiars are common along the Redwood Coast.  Halflings in particular bond well with river otters, while sea otters bond with the Coast’s elven sailors who only rarely ever even come ashore.  Among humanoids, a goblin or orc with an otter familiar is likely to be less menacing than their rattlesnake-bearing kin.  Those being chased by the many black-armored slavers of the region (both human and orc) have often found a night’s lodging with an outcast half-orc witch doctor and his otter.

Court bard Tasha Fantry’s personal pet and fashion statement, a pot-belled pig, has caused a rage for the animals in court (and earned the scorn of the region’s commoners, who regard pigs only as livestock).  Tasha’s pig is actually her familiar, and she herself is really a skilled enchantress on the hunt for a fortune and a husband…by whatever means necessary.

Abigail Nimblewright is an arcane trickster and burglar of no small repute.  Her secret is her raccoon familiar, a clever beast skilled at opening window latches.

Pathfinder 3 112–113

I have never had a familiar; that’s not how my wizards roll (or role).  And most of my exposure to animal companions has been a series of bears that met ill ends (except in one case during Age of Worms where it was the ranger who had the ill end, and the player was reduced to playing his now bereft bear).

That said, the Pathfinder Player Companion book Animal Archive looks like a treat.  I only just opened my copy and haven’t read it yet, but the art is fantastic and the few paragraphs I scanned were full of good advice.  It would not surprise me if we saw more armadillo familiars in the future, or if casting awaken will become a standard tactic for liberating steeds from their brutish masters…

Also, props to Monte Cook’s Ptolus setting for working the presence of familiars and animal companions as a given into the setting.  The Golden Compass (book version) might not be a bad model either.

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