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Familiars

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Dr.Dorkness, Apr 9, 2013.

  1. Dr.Dorkness

    Dr.Dorkness Minstrel

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    Hi all,

    I'm curently writing a story which involves wizards. In my world there are only a few wizards, four to be exact. Now, they all have familiars. one has a cat (common and cliche, I know), one has a tortoise, and the dark one has a crow or raven (an other cliche).

    Now the fourth wizard is an apprentice and gets her familiar in the story. I want it to be something special. But I can't figure out what it is yet. I was thinking about a fox with antlers or an ferret with antlers (like in inkheart).

    What do you think is more interesting? What would you call it?
    I'm also open for other sugestions if you think of something more interesting.

    I would also like to know what you know of familiars and (if they are in one of your stories) how you use them.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    I know a Ferret [without antlers] that is a familiar to a friend of mine. All the familiars I have met have been black cats.
    Ferrets can have a powerful smell/musk so that be worth bearing in mind if some has one as a familiar...
     
  3. I have a fondness of foxes, myself.

    Question: What exact purpose does the familiar serve? Or are they just glorified pets? I mean, I could see a crow be useful for spying, but I can't imagine what a tortoise might be good for.
     
  4. Dr.Dorkness

    Dr.Dorkness Minstrel

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    The main purpoce of these familiars would be channeling magic through them. this would be to amplify the magic spell and serve as a protection against the dangers of magic. (like blowing yourself up or something.)

    The tortoise would be good for magic that has to do with protection. Like bariers and so forth, they are also symbols of health in some cultures (this would also be based on the turtle) and long life. So, perhaps life magic and healing? The crow would indeed be good for gathering inteligence in a form of scrying, perhaps, and necromancy, because they are believed to carry the soul to the other realm in some cultures(Nordic, Germanic). The cat would be for offensive magic of some kind.

    The ones that I have proposed would be good alrounders, so to speak. Antlers for protection and the types of animals are sly, inteligent, loyal, fairly good hunters (like the cat) and so forth.

    The Familiars would be glorified pets, with a telepathic bond to the master. But as you can see they serv other purpoces as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2013
  5. Dr.Dorkness

    Dr.Dorkness Minstrel

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    I'd also like to add some additional infromation on how to aquire a familiar, why they are needed and some other advantages and ofcourse disadvantages.

    First of al Wizards are the greatest spell casters in my world, they don't only cast fire balls and other destructive spells, but also more subtle magic. Like persuasion magic and so forth. They are the only ones who can invent new magic and new laws of magic. there are more spell casters. sunelves, who are adapt at destruction magic. moonelves who can control nature. mages, humans who learned magic from elves. Munchkin who can craft weapons with a soul (soul magic). shamans have an other form of soul magic. Trolls have shadow magic, and Aardar he teleportation magic. there are many more magics but only Wizards are known to wield them. (except for the Akunaki, an extict race.) Familiars are needed mostly for the protection against magic/spell failure. Wizards also draw magic from themselves, they are born with it. While others draw it from an other source like the gods or the earth.

    Familiars are summoned by drawing a magic circle with your own blood. Concentrating hard on them and reciting a spell. the needle with which you pricked your finger to draw the blood is also needed as an component in the summoning. Only wizards can do this. So wizards are the only ones with Familiars.

    Wizards, as I mentioned, can wield any magic and even create new laws for it. But they are better at some kinds magic than other kinds, this depends on the properties of the familiar, as I mentioned in the previous post.

    Wizards channel their magic through stones and wooden staffs. They represent the elements in the magic, stone for the earth, wood for wind water and even fire. (since it can be fed to a fire to grow larger.) the familiar, is as i said summoned by using blood. So they are your own. In the casting of magic they represent the soul, or life force if you will. So they are also a component to the magic of the wizard.

    An advantage is that Familiars can amplify the spells that are cast. Making them stronger. An other advantage is that familiars defy death. Wizards become practicaly immortal when they gain a familiar.

    Now then, Disadvantages. Familiars are asort of parasite. They feed on casting magic (as well as normal food). so a wizard needs to cast magic to sustain the familiar. This not a big problem because magic is a way of life for the wizard. choosing not to cast magic would mean the familiar dies, and so would the wizard. Summoning a familiar also means that you can not have childeren anymore. This drove one of the wizards mad for she wanted to have childeren. (sorry women, for making this a stereo type from females.) A Familiar is not some mindless slave either. if it is disatified with the wizard, it can betray him/her and kill him/her. it would die itself as well, but I think it is a frightening thought to have someone else decide if you live or die and when.

    I hope this gives you all a bit more information regarding the decision.
     
  6. Ayaka Di'rutia

    Ayaka Di'rutia Troubadour

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    What about a larger animal? Such as a horse, a cow, a ram, etc.? That could help you break from cliches, using animals people wouldn't normally think of as familiars (except for horses, I suppose, but they're still awesome). Larger animals could give more power and intelligence, and perhaps other subtle qualities such as tolerance and agility.
     
  7. Asura Levi

    Asura Levi Sage

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  8. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I think there's a creature in mythology that's like that. I think it's a jackalope. A rabbit with antlers. And that just put a funny scene in my head. The bunny jumping around, jumps high and his antlers stick in a thick branch. Poor little guy is stuck by his antlers.

    But if you want either a ferret or fox with antlers....I say ferret.
     
  9. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I think a ferret could be cool for a familiar, though I always wonder why writers generally choose small animals for familiars. I think it could unique to have a polar bear for a familiar. :)
     
  10. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    Because if familiars are over a certain size, it's called "dragonriding."

    Seriously, the idea of familiars comes from (or at least was codified by) the witch-hunters' idea that witches lived incognito, with cats and other little inconspicuous animals for familiars. The word's just associated with the smaller size, and stealth rather than power.
     
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  11. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    One reason is that people often like to have their familiars physically with them- it's hard to bring a polar bear indoors with you in most places.

    Also, traditional familiars were often utilized as messengers, spies, guards, and runners of errands- as well as sometimes an alternate form for the human magic user hirself to embody. While large predators would have their charms in these roles, smaller animals are more utilitarian for many of those tasks.
     
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  12. Kit

    Kit Maester

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    Ninja'd by Wordwalker. :ninja:
     
  13. Rinzei

    Rinzei Troubadour

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    From your later posts, it sounds like your familiars are also symbolic in a way - the tortoise for protection and health, the crow for intelligence and spirituality (as you said, ferrying souls between worlds) and the cat may be for something like grace, stealth? So maybe it would be a good connection to pick a familiar based on the associated symbols that your character needs or embodies?

    You mentioned that the wizards each have magic they are better at than others, things they are particularly good at. Maybe the familiar can reflect this.

    So maybe create a list of characteristics and qualities that you think would match well to your character for a familiar, and look at what animals embody those traits.
     
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  14. Addison

    Addison Auror

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    I think that's called animism.
     
  15. Dr.Dorkness

    Dr.Dorkness Minstrel

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    You are absolutely correct about the dragonriding thing.

    And indeed the Idea of a familiar comes from witch-hunters, or the general idea that people have with witches. But in later fiction Familiars are also based on the native american cuture of having a animal spirit to guide you. That is why Familiars can be so diverce in form.

    an other reason why I don't want them to be to large is the cities. wizards have to adapt to all kinds of situations. So a smaller creature is beter then. Also I had the idea that They can shape shift in an other form of the smaller creature to a form that is a few stories tall to protect the wizard from non magic atacks (and all sizes in between.). But I don't yet know if I'm going to do that, or if it fits the story.
     
  16. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    True enough, though it would be easy to leave it outside without worrying whether or not it would attack and eat someone. It would likely just wait patiently for the wizard to return and draw stares from people; who probably know that wizards have familiars.

    It really depends on how you are telling the story and what sort of wizard the character is. If they live in a massive tower in the middle of a frozen wasteland and stay away from settlements, a polar bear would be perfectly reasonable considering there are probably going to be other polar bears around and the wizard may need a level protection a fox or other small animal aren't capable of.

    Many manifestations of wizards that I have read, ones that include familiars are allowed more than one at any rate. A wizard like that would have a polar bear guard, a snow fox for spy/messenger and hawk or something for long range scouting/hunting small game.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2013
  17. Jeff Xilon

    Jeff Xilon Minstrel

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    One thing I'm wondering is - why does one character have a fantastical creature for a familiar (something with antlers that normally doesn't have them) when the other three all have normal, even commonplace, creatures? Or do the cat, crow and tortoise have strange features as well?
     
  18. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I wondered the same thing myself... like the Jackalope. What purpose do the antlers serve in the scheme of things?

    Protection? In order to be effective they need to be light enough that the creature doesn't have his head pulled downward by simple gravity so they likely are very thin and likely hollow to accomplish that, rendering them somewhat useless as a protective feature.

    Attack? Same idea as above, light antlers would do very little harm if they break with the first attack against another Jackalope's antlers and surely wouldn't do much against large creatures.

    Look cool? Yeah, probably about right in the scheme of things. I personally think adding antlers to a creature that otherwise doesn't have them is a kind of sell-out way of changing a creature just for the sake of the story and to add that little bit of "bling" when it may be better to just not include them and be truly creative somewhere else and with something a bit more important.
     
  19. Jess A

    Jess A Archmage

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    I have a fox with antlers in my story (for a scene anyway). But it's a faerie and faeries aren't supposed to make a whole lot of sense. The animal are supposed to look freakish and out of place.

    ---

    Anyway back to the discussion. Some other ideas:

    Lynx - smallish cat but large enough to do some damage.

    Snow leopard or wolf: Large enough to do some damage, mobile.

    Dog: Able to mingle with other humans, get information, also mobile and can fight.
     
  20. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

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    I think the most useful would be a horse. The obvious value, plus plenty of fighting power, and inconspicuous too (though of course he can only go certain places). Mercedes Lackey has a point.
     
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