Adventurers are, by definition, people who go on journeys. It would be odd if they didn’t bring back a pet or two from distant lands…or even distant times. And if you're a GM, few things make an NPC stand out like an archaeopteryx familiar.
Then again, if your home campaign’s default geography isn’t Sherwood circa 1300, the archaeopteryx, dodo, or platypus might be as common as a raven.
Abilene studied to be a wizard—she even mastered a cantrip or two—but when she attempted to bond with her first familiar, a bird like she’d never seen interrupted the ceremony. Communing with the archaeopteryx has opened Abilene’s eyes to the mysteries of witchcraft, but she still harbors fears about the mysterious patron who sent the semi-reptilian familiar.
Tameroon Fairchild is in a panic. Dodos being rare to the point of extinction, his familiar Cobbles is quite valuable—valuable enough to have been stolen, and valuable enough to still be warded against detection. Worse yet, Fairchild’s ship leaves port in two days and he must be aboard, Cobbles or no.
Vester is not a typical dwarf—he even likes to swim—which explains this boomerang-hurling prospector’s odd choice of familiar: a platypus. Even odder is the strange behavior of the other platypuses near Vester’s stake. The animals appear nervous, pacing along north-south lines as if attracted and then repulsed by some electric force.
—Pathfinder Adventure Path #55 88–89, Animal Archive 30–31 & Pathfinder Bestiary 4 96–97
Once again, Animal Archive is pretty much a must-have resource if you have a familiar in your game. The (nearly) comprehensive list of familiars on page 10 alone is worth the price of admission. (Then again, this list may take the cake.)
I’m a big Patrick O’Brian fan, so if a player ever came to me with a character based on Stephen Maturin with a dodo familiar, I would give him a 25% XP boost toward his next level on the spot.
By the way, we’re back! One long weekend in Cape Cod and another in Colonial Williamsburg/Busch Gardens has me anything but rested, but we shall boldly forge ahead regardless.
Also, we hit a big milestone just before the hiatus: 1,000 Tumblr followers! Thanks to jdursa for putting us over the top, and a big welcome to the 28 new followers who’ve arrived in the last week despite the radio silence. (Did I get linked to by someone cool? Because damn.)