Familiars and Animal Companions

I’m reworking the familiar rules for my campaign. I find that RSRD familiars tend to be too fragile and don’t have the strong mystical connotations and abilities I want them to have.

As a result of my class framework, most druidic and ranger abilities are going away, to be replaced largely by feats. Animal companions are fairly similar to familiars — though different in some significant ways — so I’ll describe the rules for them here.

As usual, these are designed for use with my Class Framework. They can probably be adapted reasonably easily to a more core rules game.

Terminology

Animal Companion
An animal with a strong bond with a master, traveling and working with him, with no mystical connotations.

Base Familiar
This is the familiar granted by the Familiar feat. It may be changed as the master increases in power and by other feats.

Familiar
To all appearances, a small creature that helps a spellcaster.

Master
The spellcaster a familiar assists, or that an animal is companion of.

Master Rank
A function of the master’s level used to determine special abilities and advancement of a familiar, equal to one half (rounded down) of his caster level.

Templates

Familiar Template

A familiar is a very small magical creature that assists a spellcaster. Any spellcaster may take the Familiar feat. This gains him his ‘base familiar’, a Tiny or Diminutive animal with this template applied. The familiar improves as the master’s rank increases, and may be further improved by the master taking feats to do so.

Creating a Familiar

‘Familiar’ is an acquired template that may be applied to any animal (referred to hereafter as the base creature).

A familiar uses all the base creature’s statistics and abilities except as noted here. Do not recalculate the creature’s Hit Dice, base attack bonus, saves, or skill points if its type changes.

Each familiar is associated with a spellcaster (this is what makes it a familiar) called its ‘master’. The master’s rank is equal to one-half his caster level, rounded down. Whenever a change is made to the familiar based on its master’s rank, recalculate the effect when the master’s rank changes. For instance, every time the master’s rank changes, the familiar gains an additional Animal Hit Dice, it’s luck bonus to AC increases by 1, and it gains a new familiar ability.

Size and Type Creatures with this template are treated as magical beasts, but otherwise the creature type is unchanged. Size is unchanged. As the familiar advances, the size does not increase as with normal advancement.

Hit Dice The familiar gains a number of Animal Hit Dice (d8) equal to its master’s ranks. The familiar may exceed his species’ normal Hit Dice advancement.

Armor Class A familiar gains a luck bonus to AC equal to his master’s rank.

Special Qualities A familiar gains a number of familiar abilities equal to its master’s rank. Each time the master’s rank increases, the familiar gains an additional familiar ability.

Base Saves The familiar continues to calculate its base saves as an animal of the same number of Hit Dice, but may use the better of its natural base save and its master’s base save, for each save.

Abilities Increase from the base creature as follows: Int +4.

When a familiar is gained, it uses either the standard ability score array (11, 11, 11, 10, 10, 10) or the nonelite ability score array (13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8), as chosen by the master. (The master chooses a familiar with the desired array.)

For each of the master’s ranks, the familiar gains a +1 bonus to one mental ability score (Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma). All points may be added a single ability, or split among the three abilities as desired.

Environment As the master.

Organization Solitary, with master.

Challenge Rating None; as a familiar the creature is considered ‘part of’ his master rather than as a separate encounter.

Advancement By master’s rank.

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