A Familiar Addendum

09 Mar

An interesting idea has come to mind, following up on my post about familiars:

“At 10th Level (Master Thief), thieves are able to decipher magical writings and utilize scrolls of all sorts, excluding those of clerical, but not druidic, nature.

1st Edition AD&D PHB, pg. 27

With the right scroll, a Master Thief could have a familiar! Given the abilities of the familiars in 1st Edition, they’d be more advantageous to a thief than a magic-user. And if they managed to roll a special familiar? A 10th level chaotic neutral Master Thief with a pseudo-dragon!

How did I never think of this in my Monty Haul days?

And we can extrapolate this even further:

“Tertiary functions of assassins are the same as thieves. They have all the abilities and functions of thieves; but, except for back stabbing, assassins perform thieving at two levels below their assassin level…”

1st Edition AD&D PHB, pg 29

A 12th Level Chief Assassin with an imp for a familiar…



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2 responses to “A Familiar Addendum

  1. Matt

    March 9, 2016 at 3:39 PM

    That sounds cool, but then you have to ask what would the result of a backfiring Find Familiar spell be?

    Since thieves don’t perfectly understand magic, there is always a result the spell would backfire on them. In 1st Edition according to the Rules Cyclopedia, this backfire chance was 10%. I think it was increased to 25% in 2nd Edition, but I can’t find my PHB to verify that.

    In any case, you’re running a risk that the spell will backfire and produce a result that is unexpected and probably detrimental. Find Familiar not summoning anything is the expected result of the magic not working, so that probably won’t be used as a backfire result.

    This leaves a range of possibilities that are not pleasant. The two that spring to my mind are:
    1. You get linked to a creature that has bestows all of the disadvantages and none of the benefits of a true familiar.
    2. You get linked to a powerful monster who will start keeping within a mile of your current location.

    Of course, there are probably more insidious ones that I could come up with if I had more time to think on it.

    So as advantageous as a familiar might be to a thief, you should remember that you’re running a 1 in 10 chance at the least that things will go horribly, horribly wrong.

    • Fractalbat

      March 9, 2016 at 3:58 PM

      Oh definitely, I agree. It’s not a wise idea, but the possibilities are intriguing.

      A correction to my example in the post; a chaotic neutral caster would have a quasit for a familiar, not a pseudo-dragon.

      According to the 1st Edition AD&D PHB, it’s 25%. So AD&D is harsher than Basic/Rules Cyclopedia. I think it could be fun to give them the special familiar from an opposed alignment. A chaotic neutral or evil thief would end up with a lawful good brownie for example. The familiar would end up trying to guide the thief along a righteous path, like Jiminy Cricket. This of course waives the random roll for a regular familiar.


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