A Monster for Every Season: Summer 2
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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Familiars with persistent memory

    When a caster summons a familiar they choose it's shape but it's still a spirit manifesting that shape.

    In your world, does every casting summon a new spirit, or reshape and recall the same spirit every time?

    I think of it as the latter and give them persistent memory so that they remember every time they died and were recalled. If a player starts using their familiar as fodder to trip traps, the familiar remembers.

    Wiz: "Finnius, go jump on that big red button."

    Finnius: "Nah, I remember the last time. *CAW!* You can push you're own buttons."

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    Warder's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Yes absolutely, if someone treats their familiar poorly that will have an impact on the relationship. I treat familiars as NPCs that PCs have a large, but not unlimited, control over.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    I'll generally run with: the familiar has the level of autonomy the *player* is interested in seeing.

    Some players want a mechanic that follows the RAW, some want a spirit buddy they can have fire side chats with. This will drive how it responds to treatment directly.

    In both cases however the creature is a spirit representative of its respective affiliation. Don't mistreat celestials? Like don't get heaven mad? or Fae probably, for different and yet similar reasons. And well fiends its kinda expected. RP not mechanic issues ensue.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    That's the kind of thing you should discuss with your DM.

    Do you want to have a relationship with your familiar? Or you just want to treat them as mechanical extension of your will, like a droid in Star wars you mind wipe everytime you rebuild it?

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Segev's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    My group has treated it as the same creature every time, regardless of form. There have been many times when the familiar was rewarded with treats or other pampering for having been voluntold to perform a suicidal action.

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    Troll in the Playground
     
    Millstone85's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    I described my patron as the hive mind of an ecosystem in the Far Realm, and every time I cast find familiar it would summon one of the countless aberrations that compose it. Thus, the familiar already came with the mentality of an expendable drone. It also knew everything the patron judged it needed to know, which included having the memories of all previous familiars.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Imp

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    I agree that it's up to the DM and it should be possible to summon the same spirit as before, but I think that's the exception and not the rule.

    I think in one case there should not be an option to summon the same spirit as before. Specifically via the Pact of the Chain you are allowed to take the pseudodragon as a familiar. The pseudodragon has this text.

    Variant: Pseudodragon Familiar

    Familiar. The pseudodragon can serve another creature as a familiar, forming a magic, telepathic bond with that willing companion. While the two are bonded, the companion can sense what the pseudodragon senses as long as they are within 1 mile of each other. While the pseudodragon is within 10 feet of its companion, the companion shares the pseudodragon's Magic Resistance trait. At any time and for any reason, the pseudodragon can end its service as a familiar, ending the telepathic bond.
    If the pseudodragon leaves because it doesn't want to be your familiar you shouldn't get to summon it again, otherwise it should just leave you immediately again.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Millstone85's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    The pseudodragon has this text.
    This is a separate method to obtain a pseudodragon familiar. Compared to the find familiar / Pact of the Chain method, it has its pros (sense-sharing within 1 mile and resistance-sharing within 10 feet) and at least one major con (the familiar is free to end the bond).

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Quote Originally Posted by Chalkarts View Post
    When a caster summons a familiar they choose it's shape but it's still a spirit manifesting that shape.

    In your world, does every casting summon a new spirit, or reshape and recall the same spirit every time?
    Personally as DM I rule that Familiars are part of your spirit not A spirit. That is to say when you summon one- you're basically shaping part of yourself into the Familiar. This tends to provoke a somewhat more-protective relationship between caster and Familiar than that of cannon fodder as they (correctly) believe there might be consequences of it being repeatedly killed.

    And yes, because the Familiar is basically 'them', the Familiar will remember what it has done and what the caster has done since its last summoning. This is particularly noticeable if the Familiar was a Celestial but the Caster had started down a very real path towards evil- which would cause it to look more Fiendish.

    I have not yet had someone attempt to create a Familiar in a more manual fashion (fiendish contract with an Imp for example) but I would likewise insist the connection is one that imprints a piece of the Caster on the now-Familiar Imp.
    Last edited by SociopathFriend; 2021-12-05 at 06:52 PM.
    It's time for a preemptive retaliatory strike.

    Original online work - I've Been Reborn as a Dungeon Monster?

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Greywander's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Quote Originally Posted by Mastikator View Post
    I agree that it's up to the DM and it should be possible to summon the same spirit as before, but I think that's the exception and not the rule.

    I think in one case there should not be an option to summon the same spirit as before. Specifically via the Pact of the Chain you are allowed to take the pseudodragon as a familiar. The pseudodragon has this text.
    [...]
    If the pseudodragon leaves because it doesn't want to be your familiar you shouldn't get to summon it again, otherwise it should just leave you immediately again.
    A pseudodragon familiar summoned by a chainlock isn't a real pseudodragon, though. It's a spirit (celestial, fiend, or fey) that takes the form of a pseudodragon. It's also subject to all the rules regarding the Find Familiar spell. Now, if you happen to come across a real pseudodragon, you can make a pact with it to become your familiar, which uses completely different rules from Find Familiar. You can also have a familiar from Find Familiar at the same time; a real creature that has bonded with you to become a familiar does not interact with the Find Familiar spell at all, and thus doesn't count against the limit of one familiar that the spell imposes. You can also bond with more than one creature at a time in order to have multiple familiars, plus one more from Find Familiar.

    As for Find Familiar itself, I would say that you have the choice when casting the spell to summon up the same spirit or a different one. If you summon the same spirit, it would probably retain its memories; the distinction between a soul and an animating spirit might mean you're summoning the same soul, but a different animating spirit, in which case memories would not be retained, but that seems unlikely and the spell text says nothing to indicate that this is the case. If you summon a different spirit, it would not retain the memories of the previous spirit. But you could probably cycle between a few different spirits, each having their own sets of memories. For example, you might use a celestial familiar when you're on the up-and-up, but switch to a fey or fiend familiar when doing anything illicit.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Quote Originally Posted by Chalkarts View Post
    When a caster summons a familiar they choose it's shape but it's still a spirit manifesting that shape.

    In your world, does every casting summon a new spirit, or reshape and recall the same spirit every time?

    I think of it as the latter and give them persistent memory so that they remember every time they died and were recalled. If a player starts using their familiar as fodder to trip traps, the familiar remembers.

    Wiz: "Finnius, go jump on that big red button."

    Finnius: "Nah, I remember the last time. *CAW!* You can push you're own buttons."
    for me its different with every PC. as a player i tend to prefer that he familiar essentially acts as a creature of its type. sure its *technically* a celestial. but its still just a *insert animal type*. and in general i have control over it, and its lacks autonomy. that said, i also, as a player, build wizards that actually care about their familiar. so they don't mistreat it.

    as a DM i let the player run with it. i have enough on my plate without having to tell my players that their fun is wrong.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Greywander's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Quote Originally Posted by kazaryu View Post
    as a player i tend to prefer that he familiar essentially acts as a creature of its type. sure its *technically* a celestial. but its still just a *insert animal type*.
    Related, but I've seen people argue that because the familiar is a spirit, it doesn't experience biological needs (food, sleep, etc.). Nothing in the spell says that, though. For all intents and purposes, it seems like the familiar should behave exactly like the animal it's taken the form of, including needing to eat or sleep, but also following similar behaviors, such as a cat sleeping all time and being really jumpy, or a crow stealing shinies. Familiars don't get any kind of bump to their mental stats, so even if they remember a previous incarnation as a different animal, it likely won't affect them much beyond simply remembering things that happened (e.g. if you've been slapping it around, it may flinch when you raise your hand, no matter what form it's in, but you're not going to get a raven who acts like a cat just because it was a cat for a while).

    I think technically, familiar spirits are enslaved in a fashion by the spell, and are bound to follow your commands. You can mistreat them all you like, and they can't do anything about it. But that's just if you're running it by the books. I like to treat them more like a pet (or, for a chainlock, like a sidekick/lackey), and while I might knowingly send it into danger (knowing that I can easily revive it should the worst happen), I wouldn't deliberately mistreat it.

    Hmm, speaking of mistreating familiars, I'm guessing they have souls, so Find Familiar is basically a source of infinite souls. Would make feeding your phylactery as a lich really easy. Likewise, a mind flayer could use it as infinite access to brains, albeit beast brains rather than humanoid brains (though on a chainlock...).

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Xihirli's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Spoiler: Find Familiar
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    When the familiar drops to 0 hit points, it disappears, leaving behind no physical form

    You’d have to find a way to extract a brain or soul without dealing damage.
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    Supagoof took the most blows and incidentally took exactly the same damage Xihirli inflicted.
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    Xihirli: Being a better target since 2015.
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    Xihirli, bastion of murder and betrayal.
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    Wow I missed a lot today. So, kill Xihirli?
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    Nobody else is gonna be right behind me, right now. Only Xihirli.
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    If Xi and I agree some more, I will start to doubt my own alignment!
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    I still prefer to see you as the dagger hanging over us all, Xi.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Greywander's Avatar

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Good point. It would still work for a lich, since no damage is involved. You just cast Imprisonment on the familiar to put it in your phylactery, and 24 hours later the familiar's soul is consumed.

    This... really shouldn't work, though. If it did, then every lich would do it, unless they're not a wizard (cleric or sorcerer lich?). You'd basically never see a lich starve if this were the case, or capturing people to eat their souls, and clearly you do see them starve and eat people's souls. They're not stupid; if it worked, they would have done it, but they don't do it, ergo it can't work. But why? There isn't really a reason why it shouldn't work, aside from the fact that nobody is doing it when they totally would if they could.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    As a druid, with my wildshape familiars, I tend to reserve a Good Berry or two for them. Yeah, sure, you can't heal a 1-3HP familiar in any meaningful way, but it's a nice thought after all the random stuff I get them to do. A free feed while you exist is a nice little bonus for all your hard work. They'll disappear in a few hours anyway, so it's just an RP thing to show some niceness. They splat? I reform them from my wildshape pocket-dimension within seconds if needed, not an hour like normal magic users (incidentally the same place all the merged crapolla goes when I merge it into me when I wildshape, so they've got tonnes of stuff to play with. There could even be wildfire spirit friends, glowy stick-on tatoos of entire constellations, a giant HP-giving bear totem, or a big bunch of magic mushies and necrotic essences in there too. Who knows? Wildshape-space is awesome).

    Summoned Beasts and Fey get the same, but sometimes more. Summoned Fey really are like little adventurers themselves, so get all kinds of goodies in "their" adventuring pack. Has hands, can speak, is smarter/ wiser/ more charismatic than many PCs, and can even use a short sword pretty well. They're not so much pack mules, as extensions of my awesomeness (and way more suicidal, because I do tend to heal them up when I can, so my DM doesn't mind a bit of splatting from time to time). They come in with their Fey-type depending on my mood, which reflects in their abilities. My mood is usually "Gee, I wish I had some more fun bonus actions to do, maybe a teleport or something....?"
    (Only joking, every druid by lvl3-5 has so much fun stuff to do that the rest just feels like shenanigans)

    The conjures get nothing. Nothing. Which is pretty cruel now I think about it. But I ain't made of Good Berries.
    (But yeah, we play it as persistent memories for familiars and good/neutral summons, non-persistent for conjures and evil'ish summons. It kind of feels right, even though it shouldn't. We rarely have evil characters, but if we did, it would probably be reversed on summons (but conjures still get nothing) so it's kind-of fair. Except to those poor conjured spirit-meat-sacks)


    ((And yeah, having a potential 2x familiars per short rest is really good. Even if you never use little wildshape for anything other than that, it makes many subclasses even better. Caster or not. Moons definitely want flyby advantage on attacks to stick their attack-riders, but having blindsight or a second perception roll (maybe with advantage) on-call is amazing for many pre-combat thingos for all druid subclasses as well. Even those that use wildshape for other stuff. And it scales well enough that it's like a lvl6'ish+ extra capstone, because that familiar probably will roll-over to the next encounter as well. Free'ish advantage to a party member for one attack a turn or double perception rolls is that good. And if yours dies, whatever. Make the choice on if you want it again, this short rest or the next. The free'est helper buddy in the game, those wildshape familiars are, for you and the entire party. And every druid can wildshape an encounter or two away each day between level 4-6 as a Warhorse, with a familiar giving advantage, thus saving spell slots))
    Last edited by sambojin; 2021-12-06 at 10:29 AM.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
    Griffon

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Quote Originally Posted by SociopathFriend View Post
    Personally as DM I rule that Familiars are part of your spirit not A spirit. That is to say when you summon one- you're basically shaping part of yourself into the Familiar.
    I tend to rule and RP similarly. I might get a liking to a particular familiar and dread seeing it killed, but Find Familiar results are just part of my magic, my essence. Chain Pact familiars however are real creatures ripped from whereever. They are opinionated, real and talkative. They may not leave your service willingly (the word chain is there for a reason), but they will obstruct you if they are mistreated.

    All that is fluff though, if you push a devil into a meat grinder, it will not be souring your relationship, but enforce what they expect of their master. I feel without a discussion beforehand, removing a feature of the game for RP reasons is DM fiat. People will not stop having Absorb Elements because their wizard agitated a fire elemental lord. So why should a familiar leave them?

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    I once had the idea of a concept for a Arcane Trickster who is basically is a Form-stealer. His schtick was that he had a menagerie of familiar forms he manages to acquire over the years (and adventures to expand his menagerie). The menagerie could extend to stuff like.. an elemental, a fairy, devils, etc..

    Twas all thematic and not really rule-crunchy. But in my mind all of these forms were unique and sentient in their respective right.

    The challenge was that you had to had an extraplanar entity accept to give you a shard of their essence so you can recreate a lesser, minute version of them as a "Familiar", so expanding the menagerie would have been about finding way to get leverage on these entities.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    Quote Originally Posted by SociopathFriend View Post
    Personally as DM I rule that Familiars are part of your spirit not A spirit. That is to say when you summon one- you're basically shaping part of yourself into the Familiar. This tends to provoke a somewhat more-protective relationship between caster and Familiar than that of cannon fodder as they (correctly) believe there might be consequences of it being repeatedly killed.
    This is broadly how it "used to work" in D&D with EXP penalties if it was destroyed. I can see why they got away from this (EXP loss, level loss, and such not) but it does leave the familiar is an annoying flavourless spot where I have even less reason to care about the thing. I like putting hooks back in it, but it does call for *some* player buy in.

    Heck, I drastically prefer the way Ars Magica handles it where obtaining a familiar a years long project in arcane ritual and binding, as well as a broad RP event where you forge a best friend to accompany you though your centuries of life. And when you are done its still basically a bird physically, using it to distract an advancing foe would be like tossing a 2 year old at a charging bear to slow it, both physically and ethically.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Familiars with persistent memory

    I think it's pretty clear from the spell that it's always the same spirit, no matter its form, unless you deliberately permanently dismiss it. Everything in the spell about the familiar disappearing speaks of the same creature reappearing, and if it was a different creature every time, the permanent dismissal option would be irrelevant.
    Time travels in divers paces with divers persons.
    As You Like It, III:ii:328

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