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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Sep 2018

    Default Familiars/ Animal companion/ magic swords etc

    So... I'm currently playing around with the idea of a setting where ALL magic is in some sense mediated via spirits/familiars etc.
    Players don't get magic, but they can get a spirit of the lantern with several magical abilities and spells avaliable to the companion...


    and so I was thinking about "Companions" (familiars, intelligent swords, horses etc), and how they function mechanically in RPGs.

    To what extent are they just an extra ``limb'' attached to the players, which always does whatever their master decides?
    To what extent are they an NPC creature controlled by the GM?
    Where SHOULD the balance of this lie?

    Has anyone seen a system that successfully brings animal companions (etc) "To life" as it were?
    Has anyone seen a system that did so WITHOUT making them a huge liability/pain in the neck for the player piloting them?

    What are peoples thoughts/feelings on companions in general?
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    Seeking feedback on:
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    MoleMage's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars/ Animal companion/ magic swords etc

    I'll start by saying, no I haven't seen that system. Closest is maybe Pathfinder's Summoner where you basically play your Eidolon with some class features handled by the squishy caster.

    That said, one idea you might consider is allowing the companions to be played by a second player. Essentially the players would pair up with one playing the mundane half of the equation and the other playing the magical companion half.

    I once thought about doing this where the companions were all magic items but I never figured out a satisfying houserule for it. I might try to revisit it for some of the more modern systems.
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Erloas's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars/ Animal companion/ magic swords etc

    I think the biggest/first question is what are you trying to accomplish, what is the end goal.

    There are a lot of bound item and animal options in various classes of Pathfinder, but from a mechanical standpoint it usually doesn't make much of a difference. You can sunder, disarm, or attack whatever key component you use but it isn't really that much different. They are just different ways for the DM to decide to take away the player power if they want.

    Tying all of a caster's magic to an item/creature and then not giving them complete control over it basically means you're just putting some sort of animal handle/diplomacy/use magic device/whatever skill check before every use. That goes one of two ways, it either becomes trivial at some point early on, so why bother; or it is always going to happen and you're essentially sitting at something like, caster in armor arcane failure chance, x% of the time the spell just fails. I don't see that an enhancing the game.

    To bring animal companions "to life" is essentially just roleplaying and it is really hard to mechanically enforce roleplaying. I think given the prompting players would put more thought into their animal companions/mounts/familiars, the question mostly comes down to how much game time do you want to devote to that? If it is a key aspect to the setting that could be worth more effort. How much table time do you want to take up having a character feed their bird or brush down and hobble their horse or play fetch with their dog?

    Although if you tie many of a character's abilities to an animal they are much less likely to send it into dangerous situations and do other non-sensical things with it.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Familiars/ Animal companion/ magic swords etc

    You've basically described the White Wolf game Geist: the Sin-Eaters

    Just replace "familiar" with "Ghost" and it's effectively what you have described.

    Pick it up and you can use their mechanics, the biggest of which is Synergy, which is coordination between the familiar and player.

    That, in itself, could be an interesting component to add. It would work in 5e a whole lot like Warlock's Patron or Paladin's Oath - where the demands of the oath/patron may conflict with what the player wants in any specific instance... which could lead to interesting outcomes.

    We see this in popular culture a lot - Gollum, all of the Ghost Riders, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Arthas & Frostmourne, The Symbiote in Spiderman 3 and Venom.

    One example that connects to your ideas is three characters in League of Legends, all connected by a group of sentient weapons called "Darkin".
    • Aatrox is a fearless bruiser, but Aatrox is the name of the blade that has taken over control of the nameless mortal who wielded him.
    • Varus is a sleek archer, who is a conglomeration of the Darkin Bow as well as the souls of two lovers who are incorporated together
    • Kayn wields a Darkin scythe named Rhaast, and each match of LoL the player can lean their playstyles over to which personality will "win" over the course of that game, Kayn mastering the scythe and becoming a wall-walking assassin or the scythe mastering him and becoming a Demonic Skirmisher.
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  5. - Top - End - #5
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    DruidGuy

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    Default Re: Familiars/ Animal companion/ magic swords etc

    Thanks all for feedback.

    You've basically described the White Wolf game Geist: the Sin-Eaters
    Just replace "familiar" with "Ghost" and it's effectively what you have described.
    Perfect- thanks for the reference. This sounds like exactly what I was looking for, will go look into it.

    Pick it up and you can use their mechanics, the biggest of which is Synergy, which is coordination between the familiar and player.
    Awesome.



    I think the biggest/first question is what are you trying to accomplish, what is the end goal.
    Mainly is a worldbuilding thing I am toying with, and wanted to get preliminary feedbacks from people on what has been seen/implemented previously.

    Tying all of a caster's magic to an item/creature and then not giving them complete control over it basically means you're just putting some sort of animal handle/diplomacy/use magic device/whatever skill check before every use. That goes one of two ways, it either becomes trivial at some point early on, so why bother; or it is always going to happen and you're essentially sitting at something like, caster in armor arcane failure chance, x% of the time the spell just fails. I don't see that an enhancing the game.
    I agree, this sort of thing doesn't enhance the game... which is why I was asking around to see if there were better options.

    To bring animal companions "to life" is essentially just roleplaying and it is really hard to mechanically enforce roleplaying. I think given the prompting players would put more thought into their animal companions/mounts/familiars, the question mostly comes down to how much game time do you want to devote to that? If it is a key aspect to the setting that could be worth more effort. How much table time do you want to take up having a character feed their bird or brush down and hobble their horse or play fetch with their dog?
    A agree, it is a roleplaying problem, and understand that RPing mechanics do get into dicey territory (in particular, my understanding is that opinion on, for example the Paladin's RP restrictions is at best divided)

    I suspect the type of roleplaying you would want to do would be stuff involving you familiar DURING and adventure, and not such things as "Feeding the dog" outside of the adventure. In much the same way as a Paladin's code of honour is actually relevent DURING adventures, and not just in their time off... but preferably, if I was going to make Familiar's a more integral part of the game, I would PREFER not to get into the RPing/mechanical difficulty that Paladin gets into, hence asking for thoughts/ideas.
    It started in the first world, long ago.
    We solved the the first of riddles, the code of life.
    On the backs of slaves, we traveled out into the great dark void between worlds.

    And then... we created the gods.

    Nine Gardens.
    Insane "Benevolent" AI. Genetically engineered witch queens. Strange robots.
    Faulty Terraforming. A Space Opera RPG.

    Seeking feedback on:
    Character building rules(page 4). Lore (page 6). What classes catch peoples eye? (page 5).
    Oots thread here.

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