A Familiar Spirit, more often known as simply a Familiar, is a magical spirit entity that commonly manifests itself as an animal in order to protect a mage and assist that person in their magic. Familiars are very intelligent creatures and are much stronger than their mundane counterparts. Familiars most commonly appear to mages but in some extremely rare cases can also appear to a Witch. In very rare occasions, a Faerie will gain a familiar. Anybody can summon a familiar with the proper ritual and tools. They are also known as "Niggets" and "Daemons" among the supernatural community.
Familiars are thought to have existed as long as mages. Because they are capable of bonding with spellcasters of any kind, nobody is quite sure what the first Familiar was or to whom that Familiar belonged.
The earliest known Familiars were written in the 7th century BC by an ancient Greek explorer, who "ventured into the dark north", which was presumably western Europe and possibly as far north as southern Scandinavia. He writes about a group of "Wise Women" who could perform "wondrous magics" and each had with them an animal as smart as a man. He writes about having seen cats, ravens, toads and owls specifically, though he mentions other animals he did not recognize.
The earliest use of the term "Familiar" was in the writings of Pliny the Younger, who studied a great deal of supernatural lore. In one of his later writings, he tells of his dealings with an old man from "the mountains" who could cast magic spells, most likely a Diviner judging by Pliny's writings (the hermit foretold of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, for example). The Diviner had with him an Owl that would often perch on the old man's shoulder and watch Pliny during their encounters. Pliny referred to this creature as the old man's "Familiari", which means "of the house" in Latin. This seems to refer to the fact that the hermit would carry the owl into his home after their dealings were done.
Lore about Familiars can be found in any culture that also has lore about spellcasters. For example, in german and french culture, "Cunning Folk" had familiars that were most often described as large, black cats. English folklore speaks about Witches have animals that spy for them and assist them with their magic. Familiars were often killed alongside their masters during "Witch Hunts".
Familiars do not seem to be bothered by environmental extremes, untouched even by temperatures or conditions that would kill a mundane member of that species.
Familiars do not need to eat, drink or breathe being that they are spirits. However, they tend to get grumpy if they aren't fed and many love to nap.
A Familiar Spirit is a magical spiritual-entity that makes itself known to a spellcaster when they are of sufficient skill and/or power. Their primary purpose is the protect the spellcaster from danger and to assist them in their magic.
A Familiar most often takes the form of an animal, but this is not always the case; on rare occasions, the Familiar manifests itself as a mote of light, a Pixie, a Pseudodragon or even a Homunculus. These instances are rare, however, and almost always in an instance where the familiar is summoned, versus a spontaneous familiar. These manifestations appear as standard animals of their species, except for the glint of intelligence in the creature's eye.
Much of the mythology and lore concerning Familiars designates them either as demons or faeries, but in actuality, they are neither. Familiars are actually creatures comprised of arcane energy that are tied to the soul of a specific, magical individual. The method of their formation largely remains a mystery to modern supernatural scholars, and the method of which form they take is also unclear. What is known is that a Familiar has a supernatural connection to the master and both are empathetically linked, able to tell when the other is in danger. They are tied to the lifeforce of the spellcaster: so long as the spellcaster remains alive, the Familiar will remain with it (unless in the case of the Familiar's death, see "Powers and Abilities", below).
The Familiar's connection is such that spells that only affect a spellcaster can affect a Familiar. Familiars can even channel the magical energy of their master in a form of limited spellcasting. Familiars also grow in power as the master does (see below).
A Familiar is quite intelligent, with some more powerful Familiars able to verbally speak with their master. They have human-level intelligence, usually linked in some way to the spellcaster. They seem to possess certain pieces of information and skills that the spellcaster does. For example, the Familiars of Edgar Nulph can fetch him ingredients he needs for certain alchemyendeavors, even though he does not specify what to bring. Their interaction with others seems to be at least somewhat influenced by the spellcatsers own feelings: if the spellcaster likes somebody, the Familiar tends to be comfortable with them, as well. If the spellcaster dislikes or is afraid of an individual, the Familair often acts hostile toward them.
A Familiar only manifests itself to a spellcaster when the spellcaster reaches a certain level of skill and/or power, but this point seems to vary depending on the individual and it should be noted that for some it may never happen naturally.
There are two main ways that a Familiar shows themselves to a spellcaster. The first, and by far the most common way, is for the Familiar to spontaneously appear to the human. When this occurs, the Familiar appears nearby with a low-sounding "Pop" and simply walk up to their new master in a friendly manner. This often occurs when the spellcaster is sleeping, causing them to awake with the Familiar present. They rarely appear within eyesight of the spellcaster, to avoid startling them. The spellcaster is often not frightened by their new Familiar and they often feel an inherent feeling of calm and familiarity when they appear.
The Second instance is for a spellcaster to summon the familiar through the use of a ritual. At the end of the ritual, the familiar will appear, sometimes just popping in as described above. Other times they manifest from a mote of light or, in other cases, they'll seem to coalesce out of an unnatural fog.
A third, and by far the rarest, method is to have the Familiar given to them by a Higher Power. For example, when bartering for magic powers in a deal with a demon, it is common for the demon to grant a Familiar to the human. Fairy Queens can also grant a familiar, as can other higher powers, such as Deities. In this instance, the appearance of the Familiar will be chosen by whomever gave the Familiar, and the Familiar typically only stays with the spellcaster (or other recipient) until a particular task is completed or an allotted time is up, although this is not always the case.
The Familiar will take the form of an animal that the caster is both familiar and comfortable with, but the form it takes also depends on the personality and spirit of the spellcaster. A Familiar will not manifest itself as a creature that cannot survive in the spellcaster's native environment. For example, a Familar will never manifest itself as a fish unless the spellcaster is native to an aquatic environment. They will also never appear as an animal the spellcaster is afraid of. So, if a mage is afraid of snakes, the Familiar will not manifest as a snake.
On average, a spellcaster can only have one familiar at a time. Some spellcasters of strong personality or sufficient power might generate two familiars (for example, generating one naturally and summoning a second, as was the case with Edgar Nulph). These familiars will be the same breed of animal, but usually are different colors from one another. Their personalities also differ greatly: one is usually very charismatic and goofy while the other is stoic and intelligent. This is thought to represent different aspects of the spellcaster's personality.
In rare cases, if a spellcaster has undergone a great tragedy or has died by their own hand before being resurrected, they will not gain a Familiar no matter how hard they try. This is thought to be a side effect of losing a part of yourself due to such a great tragedy or through suicide. While it is possible for the spellcaster to one day regain their familiar, they usually do not.
Familiars tend to be very protective and loyal to their master. They are often friendly and gentle with their master, and they often try to comfort them in times of stress. In addition, the familiars tend to be influenced by their master's feelings about a subject or a person. Familiars often have very loud, distinct personalities and are very intelligent, growing more and more intelligent as their master grows in power. This link seems to suggest a spiritual link between the two.
The nature of the Familiar is also bound to the name that their master chooses for it. A Familiar's name is usually indicative of the personality the caster wishes for it to have. For example, a name meaning "protector" will often influence the Familiar to be more protective of their master than usual. Because of this, spellcasters often put a lot of thought into what they wish to name their Familiars.
Below is a list of the various forms Familiars commonly take. Please keep in mind that this list is by no means comprehensive and the attributes are common, but not universal. Sometimes a Familiar will appear in a specific form because it is the spellcaster's favorite animal. Also described are the most common attributes the spellcasters who have these animals posses and the powers the familiar grants to their master.
- Bat: A Familiar manifesting as a bat usually takes the form of a large, predatory bat. It is usually black and native to the spellcaster's home region, but not always. Bats usually appear to those who strike fear in others, and those who dwell in darkness and fight with stealth. Bats greatly enhance the hearing of their master. An uncommon familiar.
- Cat: A Familiar manifesting itself as a cat often takes the form of a housecat, though the breed and coloration vary greatly. It often has blue or amber eyes, but not always. Cats appear to humans who are proud, independent and sophisticated. Cats can magically distort sound, allowing their master to move more quietly. They also help their masters see in the dark. A very common Familiar.
- Deer: A Familiar manifesting itself as a Deer is often the size and coloration of an average specimen for the master's home region. Males typically have Stag familiars while females have Doe familiars, although this is not absolute. Deers typically appear to those who posses courage, humility, pure hearts and great love. They also enhance the hearing and running speed of their master. A rare Familiar.
- Dog: A Familiar manifesting itself as a dog usually chooses the form of a breed of domesticated dog. The size and breed of a dog vary depending on the master, and can come in any form. In rare instances, the dog will manifest itself as a wolf (of any color). These dogs tend to have blue eyes, though this varies. Dogs appear to humans who are intelligent, loyal and generous. Dogs allow the caster to distinguish between lies and truth. A relatively common Familiar in the western world.
- Fox: A Familiar manifesting itself as a fox usually chooses to take the form of a Red Fox or an Arctic Fox, though other breeds have been encountered. Foxes tend to appear to humans who are cunning, intelligent and charismatic. They grant their master the ability to better blend in with their surroundings when desired and also enhance the hearing of their master. A rare familiar.
- Guinea Pig: A Familiar manifesting itself as a guinea pig (also known as a Cavy) will most often take the form of an Abyssinian or Short Hair guinea pig, with varying coloration. They tend to be large in size compared to other guinea pigs and often have red eyes, though not always. They often appear to people who are kind, gentle and shy. They allow their master to react more quickly to danger. An uncommon familiar.
- Hare: A Familiar manifesting itself as a Hare usually chooses the form of a desert jackrabbit or a domesticated hare and are usually white or brown in coloration, though this of course varies. Rabbits often manifest for masters who are quick-witted, passionate and mischievous. They slightly enhance the hearing of their master but more obviously allow their master to make great leaps. A common familiar.
- Hawk: A Familiar manifesting itself as a Hawk is usually a large specimen for its kind and are generally speaking quiet, speaking only when necessary. They often appear to masters who are serious, stoic and brave. They enhance their master's eyesight in daylight. A common familiar.
- Lizard: A Familiar manifesting itself as a Lizard usually takes the form of a Gecko, a Horny Toad, a small Iguana or another small lizard. They tend to appear standard for their species. They most often appear to masters who are odd, intelligent and have a hard time relating to others socially. They grant their master the ability to cling to surfaces, improving their climbing ability. An uncommon familiar.
- Mouse: A Familiar manifesting itself as a Mouse usually takes the form of a standard, domesticated mouse though other breeds have been encountered. Size and coloration vary. They most often appear to masters who are quiet, humble and intelligent. They grant their master the ability to blend in with their surroundings when desired. A common familiar.
- Otter: A Familiar manifesting itself as an Otter takes the form of a standard otter, but commonly one with blue eyes. Coloration varies. They most often appear to masters who are jolly and playful. They greatly enhance their master's ability and speed while swimming, and also magically increases how long they can hold their breath. A rare familiar.
- Owl: A Familiar manifesting itself as an Owl will most often take the form of a Snowy Owl, a Great Horned Owl, a Barn Owl or an Ash Owl, though other breeds have been encountered. Size and coloration vary. They most often appear to masters who are wise, dedicated and distinguished. They grant their master enhanced eyesight in shadows and darkness. A common familiar.
- Raccoon: A Familiar manifesting as a Racoon will often appear as an average, North American Raccoon. They often appear to masters who are cunning, resourceful and quiet. They also tend to appear to spellcasters of ill-intention, as they enhance the spellcaster's ability to pick pockets. An uncommon Familiar.
- Rat: A Familiar manifesting as a Rat will often appear as a large, grey city rat, though other colors and breeds have been encountered. Rats will usually manifest to masters who are cunning, mischievous and brave. Rats enhance the ability for the master to shrug off disease, poisons and other toxins that attack the immune system. They are a very common familiar.
- Raven: A Familiar manifesting as a Raven will often appear as a large, all-black Raven (though some appear to be crows). They will usually manifest to masters who are cunning, dignified and fight from the shadows. They can not only verbally communicate with their master and others, they can also enhance the master's ability to determine the value of items and artifacts. A common familiar.
- Skunk: A Familiar manifesting as a Skunk will often appear as a North American striped skunk. They will usually manifest to masters who are short-tempered and observant. They grant their master the ability to lie more effectively and also give them a musk attack, which creates a very foul odor. A very rare familiar.
- Snake: A Familiar manifesting as a Snake will often appear as a small, venomous snake with dark markings and red eyes, though as always, this varies. A snake will often manifest to masters who are cunning, deceitful and passionate. Snakes greatly enhance the master's ability to deceive and obscures their thoughts if powerful enough. An uncommon familiar.
- Squirrel: A Squirrel familiar will often appear as a red or grey North American Squirrel, though other varieties have been encountered. They often manifest to masters who are mischievous, cunning and charismatic. They enhance their master's climbing ability and also aid them in matters of diplomacy. An uncommon familiar.
- Toad: A Familiar manifesting itself as a Toad often appears as a large bullfrog, though other varieties exist. They often manifest to spellcasters who are quiet, humble and physically plain (sometimes). Toads grant their master more vitality, allowing them to sustain more wounds and injury than otherwise possible. A very common familiar.
- Tortoise: A Familiar manifesting itself as a Tortoise often appears as a small land turtle, though of course other breeds and aquatic varieties exist. They often manifest to casters who are stubborn, distinguished and think defensively. Tortoises manifest a defensive aura around their master when they are in danger, allowing them to escape from harm. An uncommon familiar.
- Weasel: A Familiar who manifests itself as a Weasel are often North American varieties, though others obviously exist. They often manifest to masters who are cunning, deceitful and mischievous. They greatly enhance the reflexes of their master and also assist him in picking locks. An uncommon familiar.
Powers & Abilities Edit
A familiar is capable of doing anything a member of their species is capable of. In addition, they possess a number of supernatural abilities and powers, as listed below.
- Empathetic Link: A Familiar possesses an empathetic link with their masters, allowing them both to feel what the other is feeling. While nonverbal, most masters can assess the exact feelings and thoughts of a Familiar in this way, and vice versa. This also tells them when the other is in danger. If a Familiar has seen a location, the Master can teleport to that location, even if they had never seen it before. This link also enables the spellcaster to cast spells that would only affect himself (such as Disguise Self) on their Familiar, as well.
- Enhanced Durability: Over time, a familiar can withstand injuries that would kill an average human and survive.
- Enhanced Intellect: Over time, a familiar's intellect can grow to surpass average human intelligence.
- Enhanced Speed: A Familiar is much faster than an average member of their species. Most can keep pace with a car after several years. They are able to completely avoid certain area attacks by moving fast enough.
- Enhanced Strength: A Familiar is much stronger than an average member of that species. Some surpass human levels of strength after several years.
- Grant Power: A Familiar grants their master an ability, usually enhancing a particular skill, such as moving silently or jumping. Other times it grants them bonuses to defense or grants a special attack, like a Skunk Familiar's "Musk Attack". This ability varies depending on the species of animal the Familiar manifests itself as. The master only benefits from this ability if they and their Familiar are within 1 mile of each other.
- Alertness: While in arm's reach of a Familiar, the master's senses are sharpened and alerts them to danger quicker.
- Scry on Familiar: Once per day, when they have reached sufficient power, a master may magically, remotely view their Familiar as if they had cast a Scry spell.
- Speak with Animals: A Familiar of sufficient power can verbally communicate with other animals of their general type.
- Immortal: A Familiar does not age and cannot die a "natural" death and will live as long as the Caster lives. If they are "killed", they will simply regenerate within a week (unless they are destroyed, see below).
- Limited Spellcasting: A Familiar is able to channel their master's magic through themselves. In this way, they can cast any spell that the master knows and is capable of casting by touching the target. This uses up a bit of the master's own magic, however.
- Speak with Master: A Familiar of sufficient power can verbally communicate with their master, in their master's native language.
- Spell Resistance: A Familiar of sufficient power gains spell resistance, which acts like armor against magic.
A Familiar possesses a number of supernatural weaknesses, as well, that others can employ against them. Note that Familiars do not possess any supernatural healing powers and are vulnerable to any kind of weapon that humans are.
- Banishing: A Familiar can be banished by a spellcaster of sufficient power. When banished, a Familiar will generally rematerialize after a brief time near their master, in the same form they were banished in. If banished by an Archangel or Archduke of Hell, however, the Familiar is destroyed.
- Death's Scythe: This weapon will permanently destroy a familiar.
- Destroying: Consecrated Iron, certain spells and runes can completely unmake and destroy a familiar. While the master will generate a new familiar, it will have a different appearance and personality than their former familiar. A destroyed familiar cannot be resurrected or retrieved.
- Iron: Iron weapons can greatly damage a familiar.
- Kill Master: Killing a Familiar's master will destroy the familiar.
- Magic: Familiars are susceptible to magic, even if they are somewhat resistant to it.
- Magical Barries: Certain spells and runes can create magic barriers that will keep a Familiar from entering that space. Additionally, any barrier that keeps out their master will keep them out, as well.
- Salt: Like all spirits, Familiars cannot pass over lines of salt. Additionally, salt can be used as an effective weapon against Familiars, as it not only harms them but can also stun them for a brief time.
- Staff of Elijah: Also known as the Staff of Banishment, this weapon can banish a Familiar and kill it permanently.