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Ashtagon
2010-03-20, 08:43 AM
Core rules:


A sorcerer can obtain a familiar. Doing so takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp. A familiar is a magical beast that resembles a small animal and is unusually tough and intelligent. The creature serves as a companion and servant.

The sorcerer chooses the kind of familiar he gets. As the sorcerer advances in level, his familiar also increases in power.

If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the sorcerer, the sorcerer must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per sorcerer level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a sorcererís experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiar's demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.

So, costs 100 gp and a 24-hour ritual to acquire a familiar, regardless of previous circumstances.

Losing a familiar costs 200 xp per class level (DC Fort save halves)., and you cannot replace it for a year and a day.

Considering that core rules assume you can (potentially) gain a level every 3 1/3 days, a year is essentially forever (optimally, you hit level 20 in 60 days of solid adventuring). Even if you assume half your time is downtime and the period is a month, that's still four (almost five) levels without a familiar.

Contrast with paladin's mount:


Should the paladinís mount die, it immediately disappears, leaving behind any equipment it was carrying. The paladin may not summon another mount for thirty days or until she gains a paladin level, whichever comes first, even if the mount is somehow returned from the dead. During this thirty-day period, the paladin takes a -1 penalty on attack and weapon damage rolls.

30 days or one class level, whichever comes first. During this period, the character suffers -1 on attack and damage rolls.

Druid's animal companion:


If a druid releases his companion from service, he may gain a new one by performing a ceremony requiring 24 uninterrupted hours of prayer. This ceremony can also replace an animal companion that has perished.

24-hour ritual which can be begun starting one round after Wolfie gets pushed off a cliff.

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Clearly, some of these are better than others. This is an area that can benefit from a more unified mechanic. To whit:

Pets - General Rules

Generically, animal companions, special mounts, and arcane familiars are referred to as "pets". Where the specific type of pet is important, that type's name (animal companion, etc.) will be noted.

If a pet dies or is somehow lost, there is a delay ("requiem period") of 30 days or one class level, whichever comes first. During this requiem period, the character suffers a -1 penalty on attack rolls, damage rolls, and caster level.

After this period has ended, a ritual requiring 24 hours is required to summon a replacement pet.

Animal Companions

A master of an companion can freely choose to release an animal from service back into the wild (ie. the animal companion cannot currently be imprisoned or in an environment unsuitable for it to live naturally and free). If this is done, he must still wait the requiem period (30 days or one class level) before gaining a new companion. However, he does not suffer any penalty to attack rolls, damage rolls, or caster level in this period. This would typically be done if the druid knows he is going to travel to an environment where his current animal companion cannot survive.

Once the requiem period has ended, a master of an animal companion must be in an environment where the type of animal in question lives in order to summon a replacement animal companion. The ritual requires one full day in a natural environment, but does not cost any money to perform.

Arcane Familiar

If an arcane familiar dies or is lost, in addition to the usual penalties, the master takes two points of Constitution damage. This Constitution damage does not heal and cannot be healed until the requiem period has ended, after which it heals naturally, and can be healed magically.

Once the requiem period has ended, a master of an arcane familiar spend one full day and 100 gp on arcane ritual components, and be in an environment where the arcane familiar animal type in question lives. This ritual is most typically performed in an area sheltered from natural elements, but with open access to the outside so that the familiar can wander in from its natural habitat.

Improved Familiars: For familiars summoned with the Improved Familiar feat, the master must be in a location that has no obvious connection to a concept or material opposite to the familiar - no summoning celestial hawk familiars in Greyhawk's Horned Society or ice mephits in Eberron's Xen'drik, for example). This is summarised below:

Familiar's affinity - cannot be summoned in:
* Evil - good states and empires
* Chaotic - lawful states and empires (this pretty much limits things to unclaimed lands or obviously chaotic nations)
* Good - evil states and empires
* Lawful - chaotic states and empires
* Neutral - As a general rule, these tend to be magical beasts rather than extra-planar. If they could be found on the prime plane, use the same criteria as for regular familiars. Otherwise, consider any strongly non-neutral state or empire as unfriendly for summoning purposes.
* Air - Underground, or in the lower floors of a multi-storey building.
* Earth - At sea or on small islands (definition of small island would be campaign-specific).
* Fire - Any cold environment; at sea or on small islands.
* Water - Deserts and dry places (note that there are both hot and cold deserts in the world).
* Electricity - Underground, or in the lower floors of a multi-storey building.
* Cold - Any hot environment.
* Construct - no special environment; however, the wizard must craft the construct himself.

Change from core rules regarding Improved Familiar feat: The homunculus is a construct under the core rules, not undead, and so there is no particular reason why it should have any special affinity for undead. Generally, as long as the master is not opposite in affinity to the familiar, he can summon that familiar type (a master with the water subtype could not summon a familiar with the fire subtype, for example). However, unless he has a strong affinity (same subtype or alignment, for example), the familiar will sometimes act to frustrate his interests.


Special Mounts

Once the requiem period has ended, a master of a special mount can spend one full day praying in a temple in order to regain his ability to call his special mount. Depending on the deity in question and current needs of the specific temple being used (campaign-specific), this may also require a donation to the temple coffers (100 gp). Until he spends this day in prayer, he cannot call his mount, but suffers no other penalty.

Pets and Action Points

A master of an animal companion who releases his animal companion back into the wild can spend an action point to immediately end the requiem period, and can then summon a replacement in the usual manner.

If a pet (animal companion, special mount, or familiar) is lost through any other reason, the former master can spend an action point to allow him to summon a replacement pet. However, the penalties to attack rolls, damage rolls, caster level, and Constitution (familiars only) will remain for the full requiem period (30 days or one class level). If several pets are lost and replaced in this manner in a short period, the penalties stack.

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Comments?

(crosspost from http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=3345)

Silverscale
2010-03-20, 08:55 AM
This makes a whole lot of sense to me. It balances out a mechanic that seemed arbitrary to begin with. Way to go.

Ashtagon
2010-03-21, 02:10 AM
Bump for great comments?

Geiger Counter
2010-03-21, 02:22 AM
I really don't like the whole alignment of the nation prevents the summoning of a creature of a certain alignment and it does not really make a lot of sense. There is no such thing as a good empire historically. Also the alignment of the leadership has no inherent magical effect on the land. Unless we are talking about the outer-planes of corse.

Personally I prefer the skeleton familiar from UA which has no penalty for causing the death of it.