Exalted: Improving the Familiar background.

Aaron Peori

Retired User
My system is thus:

Every normal animal, regardless or size or combat effective or what-have-you is a one dot Familiar. The difficulty of keeping a Tyrant Lizard around more than compensates for its size and dangerousness while the size and weakness of a mouse can be useful as well.

All familiars are exceptionally intelligent and loyal, for an animal. They can understand basic commands ("Get the key!" or "Defend him!" but not "Find a doctor and bring him here!"), essentially anything that is immediate and doens't require a lot of problem solving skill. All Familiars have an unbreakable Intimacy towards the character, this is a supernatural enforced bond and serves as a perfect defense against any attempt to get the animal to betray its master in social combat. The familiar's Motivation is "Assist my master" or some variation of the same.

Every dot after the first grants the Familiar mutations point, using the mutation rules to buy the Familiar enhanced abilities. These points don't count as wyld mutations for the purposes of needing the Wyld nor do are they shaping effects that can be removed via Order-Affirming Blow or similar effects. These merely represent increasingly more supernatural versions of animals. Mutations are also not neccessarily obvious, since they merely represent advanced capabilities. Like people, the player can assign negative mutations to gain more mutation points.

Familiar Dots - Mutation Points
* - None: Base Animal Only
** - 4 mutation points
*** - 8 mutation points
**** - 14 mutation points
***** - 20 mutation points

The Essence Channeler blight can be purchased for the Familiar, with the usual effects. The animal can learn Spirit Charms provided the Exalted can secure a tutor for it. Generally speaking the Animal Avatar that serves as the patron of the species is more than willing to teach Exalted Familiars appropriate Charms, of course it expects the familiar to be well treated and will refuse to talk to Exalts that mistreat their charges. If the animal avatar isn't available the familiar will only learn Excellencies, Essence Plethora and Principle of Motion. It can have no more Charms than its permanent Willpower. Players may assign Charms to their familiar at the cost of one Bonus Point per Charm (2BP for Principle of Motion) otherwise the Familiar starts play with no Charms.

Some other new mutations available only to Familiars include:

Man-Speech Evolution(Pox) - The animal is capable of speaking human languages. Its native tongue is the same as its master's. If still of animal intelligence the familiar is capable of only simple words and phrases, the equivalent of a very young child. Familiars with greater intelligence can engage in normal conversation and often develop interesting personalities in their own right, they can also learn other languages via Linguistics dots.

Thought-Speech Link (Affliction) - The familiar and its master can communicate silently. This is limited like Man-Speech Evolution above, but doesn't require actually require speaking out loud so it allows orders and information to be passed silently from on to the other. Thought-Speech doesn't work in any area screened against magical scrying and intrusion (such as a Private Plaza of Downcast Eyes) and is can only be intiated if the Familiar is within (master's Essence + familiar's Essence) x 10 yards of his master.

Man-Thought Evolution (Affliction) - The familiar's Intelligence increases to two (if it wasn't already) and it becomes as intelligent as any human. It still retains its supernatural loyalty to its master via the Intimacy but its Motivation can change and evolve, but will never be directly antithetical to its master's. The familiar can learn any Ability its physiology would allow. Note that it is not capable of speech (and thus can not be targeted or perform Social Attacks on non-animals) unless it has the Man-Speech Evolution, nor do most animals have the fine manipulators neccesary to learn Melee, Medicine, Larceny, Craft or other abilities that require percise dexterity.

Prehensile Tongue (Affliction) - The creature with this mutation has an especially adept tongue, one that is about four times as long as normal for its species. It can use this tongue as a fine manipulator, allowing it to perform feats such as lifting objects, picking locks or even weilding weapons even if it lacks other limbs to do so (such as a snake or a tied up human). The tongue is weaker than the being who uses it and not quite as dexteruous. Reduce the character's Strength and Dexterity by one if all they are using is their tongue.

Paragon Shape Evolution (Blight) - The creature with this mutation undergoes a subtle mutation that changes their entire body to make them more suitable for a single task. It may become a singularly deadly enemy with its claws, a superlative tracker or even the world's most perfect lover. Select a single task no broader than a Specialty, the creature recieves two bonus successes on this task. Such natural evolution comes at a price, as their body is no longer as suited to other tasks. The character no longer benefits from any other Specialties, unless granted by supernatural means (certain Lunar and Sidereal Charms, for example).

Demon-Defying Essence (Blight) - This mutation is available only to the familiars of Solar Exalted. The animal draws on its connection with its master and becomes itself an instrument of divine power. All of its natural attacks gain the Holy keyword and inflict aggravated damage against Creatures of Darkness. Familiar's that gain this mutation seem to be more noble and pure than others of their breed and often have hints of their true nature apparent (golden eyes or fur, a caste mark pattern in their feathers or so on), increase their Appearance by two dots.

Element-Adapting Essence (Blight) - This mutation is available only to the familiars of Terrestrial Exalted. The animal draws on its connection with its master and becomes infused with elemental energy. The familiar is immune to its master Anima Flux and may spend one willpower (or five motes if it is an Essence Channeler) to activate an anima banner similar to its masters. If it activates its anima banner it is immune to its master's as well (Fire Aspect will not hurt their familiar's nor will Wood aspect poison theirs). The animal gains the aspect of its master, which will be reflected in a number of ways in its appearance (red fur for a Fire Aspect, white skin for an Earth aspect and so on).

Spirit-Shape Essence (Blight) - This mutation is only available to the familiars of Lunar Exalted, and then only if the familiar is the same type of animal as the Lunar's Totem Shape. The animal draws on its connection with its master and becomes touched with a bit of the Wyld spirit of the Lunar, making its form slightly more protean. The animal gains an effect similar to the Deadly Beastman Transformation which it can activate as a Miscellaneous Action. Doing so costs the familiar one willpower (or 5m if it's an Essence Channeler). The animal grows larger and more dangerous, adding one dot each to its Strength, Dexterity and Stamina. The animal is also more durable, even in its normal form. It gains a number of additional -2 health levels equal to its permanent Essence.

Essence-Restoring Breath (Blight) - The familiar can restore its master's Essence by breathing onto him. The familiar must be touching its master to use this effect. It spends one Willpower point, restoring 2m of Essence to its master. This is a Miscellaneous action (Speed 6, DV -2) in combat time and can only be performed once in a given flurry. If the Familiar is also an Essence Channeler it can spend motes to fill its masters pool, a cost of 5m to restore 2m to its master.

Advanced Essence (Abomination) - The Familiar must already have the Essence Channeler blight to obtain this mutation. Additionally the master must have at least Essence 4. This increases the familiar's permanent Essence to 3 and it gains a bonus pool of Peripheral Essence equal to its master's permanent Essence x 5, using this pool cause the familiar to display an anima banner at the same level as an Exalt of its master's type. The familiar is now clearly a supernatural creature. No further mutation can raise the familiar's Essence over three.

Perfect Partnership Method (Abomination) - This mutation is only available to familiars of Solar Exalted, and then only if the familiar has both the Essence Channeler mutation. This mutation interacts with the Solar's Ride Charms, specifically those that allow a mount to benefit from Solar Charms. When using those Charm the Solar may pay the Essence cost of the Charm from the familiar's Essence pool rather than his own. The Solar must still be able to evoke the Charm for the familiar to benefit from it.

Perfect War Form Evolution (Abomination) - This mutation is only available to familiars of Lunar Exalted and then only if the familar already has the Spirit-Shape Essence mutation. The familiar gains a warform similar to the Deadly Beastman Transformation, except more potent than the previous version. The beastman form exactly mimics the Lunar's beastman form, with identical Strength, Dexterity and Stamina and all the warform's mutations. If the familiar has the Essence Channeler blight and the master so wishes it the familiar may activate any Gift type enhancement the Lunar knows when it assumes its warform, paying form itsown pool to do so. Assuming the advanced warform cost 2wp (or 10m). As a final note the familiar becomes very much humanoid in this form, and if the Lunar finds the form sexually compatible he may mate with it. Any child of such a union is gaurenteed to be born as a beastman with a racial template (see MoEP: The Lunars of CoCD: The Wyld) that includes all the warforms mutations.



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Epsilon
 

Silent Wayfarer

貴様らに名乗&#
Validated User
Paragon Shape Evolution (Blight) - The creature with this mutation undergoes a subtle mutation that changes their entire body to make them more suitable for a single task. It may become a singularly deadly enemy with its claws, a superlative tracker or even the world's most perfect lover. Select a single task no broader than a Specialty, the creature recieves two bonus successes on this task. Such natural evolution comes at a price, as their body is no longer as suited to other tasks. The character no longer benefits from any other Specialties, unless granted by supernatural means (certain Lunar and Sidereal Charms, for example).
You have fully grasped the essence of Exalted.

;)
 

Gokerz

Registered User
Validated User
Give the Familiar xp. A Tyrant lizard or Hummingbird is nice. A Hummingbird or Tyrant lizard with terrestial circle sorcery and terrestial MA styles is better.
And thanks to all his things being terrestial level he still won't overshadow he celestial exalted PCs.
(Tone done things a little for DB PCs)
 

king_kaboom

Benevolent Overlord
Validated User
I think it's fine as is. In my opinion, the familiar background is really only a waste if the ST is being overly generous with the availability and loyalty of followers and allies. As written familiar is the only one of these three backgrounds that is guaranteed to be present wherever the character goes (excepting of course those areas that are inaccessible to a giant eagle or other such enormous creature) and the only one that is absolutely loyal.

Allies as described in the core book are at least as powerful as a terrestrial exalt. Terrestrial exalts are described elsewhere, mostly thier MoEP, as being constantly courted by powerful beings and called upon to perform great deeds in their own right. In other words, they've got their own shit to do and while they may like a particular character they aren't going to be around all the time. After pointing that out to players I haven't had one insist that their ally be at their side constantly.

Followers are basically named extras and heroic mortals with all of the concommitant frailties. While they may be present at all times their loyalty will always be in question and they will flee in the face of danger, barring of course the Solar mind controlling them into a more reliable state. Additionally, the more followers a character has the more opportunity that will exist for betrayal and the greater the expense of maintaining them will be. Check your book, Resources does not grant followers and Followers does not pay for itself. So long as an army travels on its stomach the value of having 10,000 men at your disposal is going to be offset by the trouble of feeding them.

The counter argument of a level five familiar not being as useful as a level five artifact often comes up too. I'll address it preemptively. Most level five artifacts have limited to no use outside of combat, unless they are designed specifically for a non-combat purpose. Familiars are intended to be more flexible than that, providing a small set of skills and powers that the player may or may not have as well as a small degree of combat utility. One of the more overlooked abilities of the level 3+ familiars is that they are able to share their senses with their Solar masters. This is a phenomenal tool for recon and spying and by opening that sensory channel the Solar is able to command his or her familiar while outside of earshot, by granting the animal his or her hearing.

Finally I really see Familiar as a piece of costume that has a couple mechanical benefits. Using the experience points cost option they're worth a wopping 15 experience, and while thats about the cost of two charms I give away enough points that the players don't need to overthink the decision.
 

Autumnflame

The Sleepiest
Validated User
My system is thus:
I join in the chorus of, "Freaking <i>awesome</i>."

Am promptly adopting. And to see if I can convince my ST to use this too. Because now I have an image of my Dawn's familiar buffed up to the max, and a talking Holy armored platypus with wings is either ridiculous, glorious, or so ridiculous it's glorious.
 

Delta_I

Registered User
Validated User
Great system, but I would put the essence chaneller blight as a default item. I can't see anybody not wanting it, so it makes no sense making people buying it.

Also, I would make the essence sharing effects a little more efficient, perhaps a flat cost for the transfer, like the solar lore charm.
 
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