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Pirate Familiars

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Illustration by Typer Walpole

Avast there, ye scurvy swabs! This week sees the release of Pathfinder Adventure Path #55: The Wormwood Mutiny, which includes, among other things, four new familiars for you swashbuckling spellcasters out there. But pirates stole into our computers during the dead of night and made off with some valuable loot—the bonuses these familiars grant their masters! Fortunately, we tracked down the villainous knaves on the open seas and recovered our lost cargo—and took a few extra bits o’ plunder for ourselves.

So without further ado, here’s the rules for the pirate familiars presented in The Wormwood Mutiny, with a few other pirate familiars thrown in for good measure!

Other Piratical Familiars

Trained animals are extremely popular among pirates, serving as pets, ships’ mascots, and company on lengthy voyages. Pirate spellcasters prove no different than their shipmates in their interest in pets, and find having exotic familiars wins them bragging rights and a degree of status. Creatures like blue-ringed octopuses, goats, hawks, rats, lizards, king crabs, monkeys, rats, scarlet spiders, snapping turtles, vipers, and weasels all serve as existing examples of potential pirate familiars that appear in either the Pathfinder RPG Bestiary or Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Magic. Additionally, the statistics for many existent familiars might be used to represent more exotic, piratical familiars. The following table presents a variety of such exotic familiars, statistics that can be used to represent them, and the benefits of having them as familiars (which, in some cases, vary from the familiar creatures whose statistics they share).

FamiliarStatisticsSpecial Ability
DodoDodoMaster gains a +4 bonus on initiative checks
Dwarf caimanDwarf caimanMaster gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks
Giant isopodGiant isopod Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC
Marine iguana    Dwarf caimanMaster gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks
MongooseWeaselMaster gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
OspreyHawkMaster gains a +3 bonus on Survival checks
ParrotRavenMaster gains a +3 bonus on Linguistics checks
ToucanRaven (cannot speak)    Master gains a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks
Sea kraitViperMaster gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
SealSealMaster gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks
Snail kiteHawkMaster gains a +3 bonus on Fly checks

Rob McCreary
Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Pathfinder Adventure Path Tyler Walpole
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Qadira

These sound awesome!

One question: Is the Dodo supposed to be a +2 initiative or is he meant to be a +4 like the greensting scorpion (recently errated from a +2 to a +4) and the compsognathus?


17 people marked this as a favorite.

The toucan should grant a +3 bonus on Perception checks to detect breakfast cereals.


I was going to recommend giving the use of scent, but I like your suggestion of +3 to Perception better.

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

wolflord wrote:

These sound awesome!

One question: Is the Dodo supposed to be a +2 initiative or is he meant to be a +4 like the greensting scorpion (recently errated from a +2 to a +4) and the compsognathus?

Yes! It's fixed now. :)

Taldor

15 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Aren't Dodos extinct because they just sat still while cats hunted them? Doesn't really seem like the sort of behaviour that suggests a bonus to initiative to me.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Ambrus wrote:
The toucan should grant a +3 bonus on Perception checks to detect breakfast cereals.

I was going to give him a +3 survival check instead, on account of always being able to procure cereal. And as for not being able to talk...maybe he's just an awakened animal.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Rob McCreary wrote:
wolflord wrote:

These sound awesome!

One question: Is the Dodo supposed to be a +2 initiative or is he meant to be a +4 like the greensting scorpion (recently errated from a +2 to a +4) and the compsognathus?

Yes! It's fixed now. :)

The fixed version gives +4 to Init?


16 people marked this as a favorite.

If I were in a game with someone playing a arcane caster with a toucan familiar, I'd feel obliged to play a druid with a tiger animal companion so that we could embark on some breakfast cereal themed adventures together; preferably vs a leprechaun BBEG. It'd be GRRRRREAT!!!

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

Cheapy wrote:
Rob McCreary wrote:
wolflord wrote:

These sound awesome!

One question: Is the Dodo supposed to be a +2 initiative or is he meant to be a +4 like the greensting scorpion (recently errated from a +2 to a +4) and the compsognathus?

Yes! It's fixed now. :)
The fixed version gives +4 to Init?

Yes, the blog has been updated to reflect the change.

Paizo Employee Publisher, Chief Creative Officer

6 people marked this as a favorite.

The toucan should, of course, grant you the scent ability. :)

Osirion

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Ambrus wrote:
If I were in a game with someone playing a arcane caster with a toucan familiar, I'd feel obliged to play a druid with a tiger animal companion so that we could embark on some breakfast cereal themed adventures together; preferably vs a leprechaun BBEG. It'd be GRRRRREAT!!!

I'll play Diggum the Boggard barbarian!

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Oh, and let me just say... vermin don't bother me at all, but isopods kinda squick me the freak out!


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

The toucan should, of course, grant you the scent ability. :)

That might be too overpowered, Erik. After all, Scent is a little TOO good for something like a familiar to just up and grant to a spellcaster. But I think if you lowered it down to only allowing the toucan's spellcaster to detect the presence or absence of fruit or fruity products, it'd be pretty balanced.


Pathfinder Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Gavgoyle wrote:
Ambrus wrote:
If I were in a game with someone playing a arcane caster with a toucan familiar, I'd feel obliged to play a druid with a tiger animal companion so that we could embark on some breakfast cereal themed adventures together; preferably vs a leprechaun BBEG. It'd be GRRRRREAT!!!
I'll play Diggum the Boggard barbarian!

Play a Grippli instead. They're actually a 0-Hit Die player race.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Calixymenthillian wrote:
Aren't Dodos extinct because they just sat still while cats hunted them? Doesn't really seem like the sort of behaviour that suggests a bonus to initiative to me.

Dodos had no natural fear of man, so they wouldn't run away like other animals. So they were really easy for people to hunt. I would say instead of Init, I would give them a bonus v fear effects.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
j b 200 wrote:
Dodos had no natural fear of man, so they wouldn't run away like other animals. So they were really easy for people to hunt.

I don't know if killing dodos can really be considered "hunting". If it qualified, I'd propose that buying shrink-wrapped chicken breasts at the supermarket is likewise "hunting".


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ambrus wrote:
j b 200 wrote:
Dodos had no natural fear of man, so they wouldn't run away like other animals. So they were really easy for people to hunt.
I don't know if killing dodos can really be considered "hunting". If it qualified, I'd propose that buying shrink-wrapped chicken breasts at the supermarket is likewise "hunting".

By hunting I meant "killing a wild animal," as opposed to "killing a domesticated animal that I breed and keep on a farm," but point taken.

Andoran

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Don't disparage the proud hunting traditions of my people, Ambrus!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:

The toucan should, of course, grant you the scent ability. :)

Follow your nose!

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber

Giant isopods Squick! Squick! Squick!


j b 200 wrote:
By hunting I meant "killing a wild animal," as opposed to "killing a domesticated animal that I breed and keep on a farm," but point taken.

In my mind hunting means "killing a wild animal who has some sense of self preservation". Domestication is an arbitrary concept when applied to a tame animal like the dodo.

Kevin Mickelson wrote:
Don't disparage the proud hunting traditions of my people, Ambrus!

I hold my fellow grocery store aficionados in the highest regard.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Ambrus wrote:
The toucan should grant a +3 bonus on Perception checks to detect breakfast cereals.

Remember the old Guinness commercials?

"Anything one can do, Toucan do better"
That sounds as though it should grant Teamwork feats ...


JohnF wrote:
That sounds as though it should grant Teamwork feats ...

Or a +3 bonus on Profession (brewer) skill checks. Rather desirable for a would-be pirate I'd say.

Sczarni

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Gavgoyle wrote:
Ambrus wrote:
If I were in a game with someone playing a arcane caster with a toucan familiar, I'd feel obliged to play a druid with a tiger animal companion so that we could embark on some breakfast cereal themed adventures together; preferably vs a leprechaun BBEG. It'd be GRRRRREAT!!!
I'll play Diggum the Boggard barbarian!

How 'bout Sonny the Tengu, a Drunken Brute Barbarian? He maintains his rage by swilling a fermented chocolatey beverage.

Sczarni

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If we need a rogue...are there any bear-like races? I'm thinking of someone who can't get enough of that golden loot!

Shadow Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Ambrus wrote:
If I were in a game with someone playing a arcane caster with a toucan familiar, I'd feel obliged to play a druid with a tiger animal companion so that we could embark on some breakfast cereal themed adventures together; preferably vs a leprechaun BBEG. It'd be GRRRRREAT!!!

Just wait until you run across Cap'n Crunch ...

Qadira

KoboldQuarterly blog had stats for chicken familiars. A pirate witch or oracle might find those useful.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Finally toucan play at this game! *badoom tish*


JohnF wrote:
Just wait until you run across Cap'n Crunch ...

Between a tiger and a short potbellied old guy, my money is on my buddy Tony.

Andoran

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Companion, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The seasinger bard archetype already has the option of getting a parrot familiar - should we assume these rules (which change the skill bonus for having a parrot) apply to that archetype as well?


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ash_Gazn wrote:
KoboldQuarterly blog had stats for chicken familiars. A pirate witch or oracle might find those useful.

so they have a ready supply of entrails, right?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Shisumo wrote:
The seasinger bard archetype already has the option of getting a parrot familiar - should we assume these rules (which change the skill bonus for having a parrot) apply to that archetype as well?

No. The seasinger bard gets a special type of parrot familiar.

Lantern Lodge

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Ok so if Toucan and the Tiger need foes for this adventure of theirs, I suggest a Brown Vampire Count, A Pink Flesh Golem, and a Purple Ghost.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Sensorghost wrote:
Ok so if Toucan and the Tiger need foes for this adventure of theirs, I suggest a Brown Vampire Count, A Pink Flesh Golem, and a Purple Ghost.

Ooh! This is starting to shape up into an interesting A.P.


This is great. Parrots can talk now, the dodo initiative was fixed, and we get a few extra familiar options to boot. Very nice blog post.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ash_Gazn wrote:
KoboldQuarterly blog had stats for chicken familiars. A pirate witch or oracle might find those useful.

The Fearsome Power of Chickens cannot be denied. Nor their relative availability on seafaring vessels for the wizard, witch, or druid on a budget. Cheers!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Alex Putnam wrote:
The Fearsome Power of Chickens[/url] cannot be denied.

Nor their deliciousness with a honey mustard glaze refuted...

Shadow Lodge

Mort the Cleverly Named wrote:
This is great. Parrots can talk now, the dodo initiative was fixed, and we get a few extra familiar options to boot. Very nice blog post.

Doin' what blogs should be doin'.

Silver Crusade

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

I want to play a white-haired seafaring wizard who dresses in a blue naval uniform and has a toucan familiar now. Maybe with a weretiger on the crew.

One day we could raid the nonexistant shores of Ustalav and fight vampires, flesh golems, and ghosts.


Mikaze wrote:

I want to play a white-haired seafaring wizard who dresses in a blue naval uniform and has a toucan familiar now. Maybe with a weretiger on the crew.

One day we could raid the nonexistant shores of Ustalav and fight vampires, flesh golems, and ghosts.

LOL!!!

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber
Mikaze wrote:
One day we could raid the nonexistant shores of Ustalav and fight vampires, flesh golems, and ghosts.

Ustalav is bordered by Lake Encarthan on the south. So, weigh anchors and wear their guts for gearters!

Cheliax

James Jacobs wrote:
Shisumo wrote:
The seasinger bard archetype already has the option of getting a parrot familiar - should we assume these rules (which change the skill bonus for having a parrot) apply to that archetype as well?
No. The seasinger bard gets a special type of parrot familiar.

Yes, a very special type of parrot familiar. It's called a monkey! =D

Andoran

Hello power creep...

When you make exotic better than standard for the same cost, you might as well just make the exotic the standard.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
ciretose wrote:

Hello power creep...

When you make exotic better than standard for the same cost, you might as well just make the exotic the standard.

Since you're probably referring to the +4 initiative, UM has a "standard" familiar that also gives that bonus.

Interestingly, I just realized that almost every familiar gives what's essentially a bonus feat that doesn't scale. Most give Skill Focus, some give Iron Will / Great Fort / Lightning Reflexes. And I guess some give Improved Init.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Dodo Familiars..Tuesday Next where are you

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Cards, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
DM Wellard wrote:
Dodo Familiars..Tuesday Next where are you

I believe Pickwick belongs to Thursday, not to Tuesday.

Shadow Lodge

Cheapy wrote:
ciretose wrote:

Hello power creep...

When you make exotic better than standard for the same cost, you might as well just make the exotic the standard.

Since you're probably referring to the +4 initiative, UM has a "standard" familiar that also gives that bonus.

Interestingly, I just realized that almost every familiar gives what's essentially a bonus feat that doesn't scale. Most give Skill Focus, some give Iron Will / Great Fort / Lightning Reflexes. And I guess some give Improved Init.

the +4 init familiar existed back in the 3.5 days, too. It was a hummingbird option presented in Dragon (paizo-published).


I am glad people enjoyed these, I was a little leary of them when Wes put them on the assignment list, but I am glad people are enjoying them.

As to the Dodo there is a great deal of contreversy about thier extiction, they were in an isolated area of the island and were domesticated by some sailors (though the idea of a fat dodo is due to overfeeding not thier natural state).

The only record about their diet described them as "Jaunty and audacious of gait" which is why I made them a bonus to initiative.

There is just so little anyone knows about the dodo.

Steven D. Russell


I am hurt and crushed at the exclusion of the beloved albatross.

Paizo Employee Senior Developer

Karelzarath wrote:
I am hurt and crushed at the exclusion of the beloved albatross.

If you really want an albatross familiar, you could use the stats for an eagle. Keep in mind that an eagle (or an albatross) is a Small animal, rather than the normal Tiny size of most familiars. That's the main reason albatross wasn't included - we don't yet have a Small flying familiar in the game.

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