Fate of the Norns

How intelligent are familiars?
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Author:  Donna [ Wed Dec 28, 2016 11:24 am ]
Post subject:  How intelligent are familiars?

We had our first game - Egil's Saga. It went well, with the group eventually tracking down Egil, then deciding, "To hell with this. we don't owe that king anything and his witch of a wife tried to kill our friend. Let's go back, say we couldn't find him, pick up our longboat, retrieve Egil and head for Icelandia!"

However, I had some problems with the familiar. The seithkona had a raven familiar, and wanted to use it to find Egil and report back to her. The player also wanted to treat it like a D&D familiar - seeing through its eyes from miles away, constant mental communication, etc. I told the player not this time. (The raven went winging through the storm and never came back, but was very proud of itself when the players found Egil with the raven sitting on his shoulder.) The rules don't seem very clear on just how intelligent the spirit in familiar is, how it communicates with the seithkona, etc. Can anyone help?

Author:  raleel [ Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How intelligent are familiars?

Familiars are as intelligent as their mental runes allow. Assuming you have a low level familiar, it's probably got one mental rune. That puts it at a child perhaps. p85 of the core book details those levels roughly.

As for communication, the summon familiar power says:

Some magic users know how to bind a lost soul with magical aptitudes with an animal that has innate magical essence to create a thane known as a familiar. With their innate mystical nature, animals such as cats, snakes, and ravens make good familiars. Once a lost soul enters the animal, it gains the ability to mentally communicate with the Seithkona who bound it. The soul also unlocks the latent mystical energies so they can be shared with the Seithkona.

bolded for emphasis.

Your game and all, but that's probably a fair use of it, depending on the mental capacity of the raven. I don't know that I'd allow mental communication outside of relatively close range (i.e. probably up to 5 hexes, maybe even just Touch since that is the default range for powers).

Sending him off with instructions and a mental image to find a guy seems like a very norse-y thing to do, though. In my game, I would probably call that a bonus to a Track roll, or use it to get them into the right area and shorten up the real-life-time of the searching. I might have them Wyrd for the raven. He doesn't have tracking, so he's not going to be good at it, but he's fast and flying and has a lot of Perception possibilities (on his Skills board). Since he's not following tracks, and just searching, I would probably allow the Perception instead.

In writing that out, I would probably make it a Perception Wyrd for the raven, and I would make an Easy check, I would think, maybe even Trivial (see p91). I tend to make these checks less of a reflection of difficulty and more of a reflection of how I want the story to move along. If the story effectively ends with Egil getting away, then that is less interesting than if they find him. Thus, the check difficulty goes down because good story says he should be found.

Author:  Donna [ Thu Dec 29, 2016 12:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How intelligent are familiars?

Thank you for the information. The seithkona wanted to be seeing from his familiar's eyes and hearing what it heard, and mentally directing him every step of the way. It's not a slave, and wasn't very happy about flying in a snowstorm - most birds don't fly in storms, after all. I will keep the range in mind - perhaps touch now, and added range as the familiar goes up in levels. I would assume that the sharing magical powers would have the same range as the communication.

Again, thank you. There are so many rules and powers to learn that I always seem to miss something!

Author:  raleel [ Thu Dec 29, 2016 1:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: How intelligent are familiars?

No problem.

Like I said, it's not called out. Kind of your game on that front. I would probably NOT allow shared perception, largely because I'd point to Odin who has a pair of ravens and he doesn't get to see through their eyes. Seems wrong that Odin would not get that.

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