Animal Companion (Druid Spell) and Familiar Bond (Wizard Spell) (DnD 5e)

Animal Companion

2nd-Level Enchantment (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 1 Day
  • Range: 20 Feet
  • Components: V, S, M (100sp of Charcoal, Herbs, and Incense that must be consumed in a fire)
  • Duration: Instantaneous

The Druid gains the companionship of a Beast of no more than CR½ that is present during the course of the ritual, popular animal choices include, but are not limited to, Black Bears, Boars, Deer, Hawks, Owls, Panthers, Ravens, and Wolves. A Druid of 11th level of greater may gain the companionship of a Beast up to CR1.

The Druid may speak with their animal companion at all times in a way similar to the Speak with Animals spell (q.v.)

The animal companion acts independently of the Druid and is a “boon companion” rather than a familiar or other similar spirit aide. In combat it rolls its own initiative and takes its own actions. The animal companion gains hit dice such that it always has the same number of hit dice as their Druid companion, and they are allowed either Ability Score Improvements or Feats at the same time as their Druids gain the same improvement. Their proficiency score is always equal to that of their Druid, and they may use the Druid’s Intelligence and Wisdom saves instead of their own

The animal companion remains with the Druid until death or until it is released – while amazingly hale and hearty it’s lifespan is not greater than that of its wilder brethren. Released companions often stay near to Druidic places of Power and act as guardians as the Druids take care of them in their final years. Additionally, nothing prevents a Druid from Awakening (q.v.) an Animal Companion – often making these guardians quite dangerous.

A Druid may only have one Animal Companion at a time.


Familiar Bond

2nd-Level Enchantment (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 8 Hours
  • Range: 10 Feet
  • Components: V, S, M (30sp of Charcoal, Herbs, and Incense that must be consumed in a fire in a brazier)
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Unlike the 1st-Level Find Familiar (q.v.) which summons a spiritual “Fetch” to aid the magic user, the spell Familiar Bond creates an oath-bound alliance between the Wizard and an allied creature. Often performed with infant animals (or possibly with the animals parents in some cases), the spell creates an intense bond that cannot be broken save by either the violation of the agreement by the Wizard – these creatures rarely exceed CR½. In exceedingly rare cases, bonds may even be formed with Fey, Celestials, or Fiends if the Wizard can contact appropriately powerful entities from the appropriate Court to negotiate with – these creatures can be CR1 or possibly even higher if the oath’s are worthy of it.

The Familiar rolls its own initiative and takes its own actions. The hit dice of the Familiar is always at least equal to their Wizard, and the Familiar may always use the Wizards proficiency bonus as well. If the Wizards saves are better the Familiar may also substitute those saves for their own. The Familiar also gains Ability Score improvements and Feats at the same time as their Wizard.

The Wizard may communicate telepathically with the Familiar if they within 100 feet of each other, and they may also, as an Action, “ride along” with one or more senses of their Familiar (being oblivious to their own matching sense at while doing so).

The Familiar can maintain Concentration for one spell that the Wizard has cast as long as they are within 100 feet of the caster. The Familiar may act as the “point of origin” for purposes of range for the Wizard as long as they are within 100 feet.

If the Familiar takes damage, the Wizard takes an equal amount of Psychic damage (that bypasses any Resistance or Immunity). The Wizard is also Stunned for one round (Charisma Save, DC15, for no effect). If the Familiar is reduced to zero hit points then the Wizard immediately takes Psychic damage equal to the Familiar’s Hit Points (Charisma Save, DC15, Half Damage, other bypassing any Resistance or Immunity). They are also automatically Stunned for one round. Both Wizard and Familiar have Advantage on Death Saves while the other is still alive. If the Familiar is slain, the Wizard is affected as if by a Feeblemind spell (DC10+ Familiar’s Hit Dice).

A Wizard may only have one Familiar at a time, though they may also have a Fetch as summoned by the 1st-Level Find Familiar spell.


NOTE: Yes, a multi-classed Druid/Warlock/Wizard could have an Animal Companion, a Pact of the Chain Familiar, a Fetch, and a Familiar. If they were also a Ranger with the Beast Master Archtype they could also have Ranger’s Companion as well.

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The State of the Game – November 2016

So, we just started DnD 5e back up again after a couple of month break to play Call of Cthulhu, things were fun, but the players wanted to get back to the Age of Worms campaign and continue along with the story. I feel a little bit bad because last game session after explaining that I wasn’t going to hold back anymore, that I wasn’t going to sweat PC death anymore…

Mind you, it’s pretty hard to kill a PC in 5E as compared to 1E, in any case…

Of course I essentially manage to kill my son’s character. Now, he’s not really dead, he’s a Shade and even being stomped by some wraiths isn’t going to be enough to kill him. But he’s off in the Shadowlands slowing coalescing or rebooting or something over the next hundred years or so, so he’s essentially dead from a “getting to play him” perspective sans any heavy duty magical assistance that is currently out of reach of the characters. So my son is going to bring in another old character and we’ll see how he does with him!

I should be getting Volo’s Guide to Monsters tomorrow, along with Curse of the Crimson Throne for Pathfinder because I think I can adapt it pretty well and it looks like an amazing campaign to at least mine for ideas. Earlier this week I received my copy of Tales of the Caribbean by Golden Goblin Press for Call of Cthulhu and am very impressed by it.


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Insanity = New Backstory

So, in the new, 7E, rules for Call of Cthulhu, when an Investigator goes insane the Keeper is allowed to add or tweak existing Backstory entries save for their Key/Favored Connection which is “safe.” This is supposed to represent the world slowly spinning out of control for the Investigators and them having to increasingly question the reality that they knew once but have now had shaken considerably.

So last game session we had three characters go insane, two temporarily and one indefinitely (which is not nearly as bad as it used to be but is still pretty crippling). Let’s look at what I did with these three characters.

All of the characters went insane as a result of aftermath of a fight with what Ophelia later determined to be an “Opener of the Ways” after reading Walter Corbitt’s diaries. None were particularly bothered by the Opener itself, but seeing (or experiencing) what happened to Helen was evidently quite traumatic. I wanted to tie this to some off-screen character background/development that I have in mind for all of them if possible, and I think it went pretty well.

For Luigi, as an honorable man, I merely noted that Henry was now an Important Person because he saved Luigi’s life. There is a debt there now of a sort, and it gives Luigi a reason to keep working with the group when the initial mystery is resolved. Watching Helen almost die was a clear reminder of how dangerous things are, and how things could have gone if Henry hadn’t been there – as well as how effective Henry had been while he had been able to do little.

In Henry’s case, there is something much more mysterious. Looking at what happened to Helen (or almost happened), he is now unable to ignore the large Y-shaped scar that dominates and view of his uncovered chest. He is really unable to remember where it comes from, that’s how much he doesn’t like to think about it, but he guesses that it happened in France during the Great War.

For Helen, she would have likely died if she hadn’t spent all of her Luck in order to prevent this (ala the Pulp Cthulhu rules). With horrific wounds in her torso, the viscera and ichor of the Opener of the Ways covered her and mingled with her own blood and viscera. In her Encounters with Strange Entities the following entry was added – “The Opener of the Way, it killed me, but I passed through it, and it through me, and I did not die.”

Waking shortly after surviving she went indefinitely insane to the feeling of fraying from the inside out, and the party was forced to hold her down before she ripped open her out abdomen in order to reach inside her own body to hold herself together.

All in all, three quite well thought through effects on the various character’s backstory. None are crippling, and all lead to further questions or investigations.



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Sanity Loss in a Pulp Game

One of the biggest threats, existential or otherwise, when playing Call of Cthulhu is the ever-present and slow draining away of Sanity. The lower it gets, the faster it goes. While the 7e rules have introduced some methods for alleviating this (Getting Used to the Awfulness and Mythos Hardening) I had always had a couple of tweaked methods for dropping Sanity loss a bit further but keeping “big things bad” while allowing those players who wanted to become sorcerers some additional buffer against the inevitable.

Keeping with the simplified skills listing of 7e, I’ve actually simplified this a great deal and I like it even more. It is based on three skills, one of which I use in conjunction with the Mystical Talents. So as follows:

  • Cthulhu Mythos or Unnatural: Divide the skill level by ten, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Cthulhu Mythos skill level of 34 becomes 3.4, rounded to 3, the character has a -3 to all Sanity losses.
  • Occult: Divide the skill level by twenty, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Occult skill level of 82 becomes 4.1, rounded to 4, the character has a -4 to all Sanity losses.
  • Meditation: Divide the skill level by thirty, round down, and apply this as a modifier to all Sanity loss. E.g. Meditation skill level of 69 becomes 2.3, rounded to 2, the character has a -2 to all Sanity losses.

A character with all of those skills would have a -9 to all Sanity losses, meaning that they could interact with most minor Mythos creatures and toss off a great many of the spells with no effect. That said, they still have the potential lose Sanity from the greater threats, and in an interesting statistical twist are (when they do lose Sanity from those threats) are actually a little bit more likely to go temporarily insane as a result.

The Meditation skill is basically combination of “mental fortitude” skill as well as what I tend to use as a “psychic powers” skill use skill. In the Old Delta Green supplement Countdown the psychic powers were all individual skills for the most part, I actually like the Pulp Cthulhu version of them as abilities instead. It is less mess in the skill section of the character sheet and allows me as the Keeper to play more fast and lose with how much any use will cost or how it works.

Clearly this sort of rule doesn’t for everyone or for all sorts of campaigns, but I’ve found that it really isn’t that unbalancing and does a good job of allowing people to play the sorts of characters that they are trying to.



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