Companions Redux

   First up for today, it’s a question from Alzrius about Companions. Sadly, this one was from last month; the answer got delayed due to lack of time to check through all the older articles to find all the examples. Nevertheless, here it is now:

   I was reading over this article, as well as the following companion articles (pun intended), and I’m a bit confused.

   Now, I admit I haven’t read through Eclipse as thoroughly as I should, but from what I can tell, nothing in the basic Companion ability (p. 27) says that taking a Companion of any stripe (familiar, animal companion, psi-crystal, etc.) gives you back CP. In fact, since the ability costs 6 CP to purchase, taking it when it gives you 6 CP back would essentially make it a free ability.

   Moreover, the tables in the next two articles on this subject (Companion Creatures and Animal Companions) do not call out that the master gains 6 CP the way the familiar table does…and yet the write-ups there seem to imply that they do.

   Can you help clarify things here, please?

   First up, it’s Familiars, and only Familiars (at least under normal circumstances) which give character points back. That is, however, not exactly free; they give back six character points in an ability “appropriate to the familiar” – in other words, normally in a boring, basic (Bat: +3 bonus on Listen Checks, Cat: +3 Bonus on Move Silently Checks, etc) ability chosen by the game master. Essentially, in exchange for letting your game master spend six character points in some boring fashion, you get a free Familiar.

   That’s still a very good deal. Even though Familiars are a point of vulnerability, they can also be quite effective if well used. They’re cheap simply because it usually takes a substantial investment of time and resources to really make a familiar all that effective – and because it’s far more common for characters to fall victim to the “Familiar? Oh yes! I have a Familiar don’t I?” syndrome.

   Going back through the various articles and sample characters and companions on the site, there are three instances which refer to characters getting a six character-point bonus back from Companions other than Familiars.

   Here – in an article on Companions – there’s a mention of an old Beastmaster character getting bonuses from his various Mystic Companions. Unfortunately, since it was simply a side note, and not a full character writeup, I neglected to explain the details. In this particular case, the character was actually having his companions buy some abilities for him in this way.

  • Blessing, Specialized and Corrupted/only to bestow a specified ability, only works on their master (since it relies on the Companion link) (2 CP).
  • A six-point ability to be bestowed, Corrupted/only to be bestowed (4 CP).

   Now, the use of Blessing requires special permission from the game master, and using it in conjunction with the point-multiplying effect of a Companion is obviously potentially abusive – and thus may qualify for a page 163 penalty. On the other hand, the Beastmaster character (and later, the martial artist character who used a variation on the trick to get animal-themed martial art bonuses from one companion at a time) didn’t actually get abusive with it – and “requires special GM permission is there to keep characters from abusing some abilities, not to simply forbid their use. Both those characters were fun to have in the game. I shall add a footnote to that article, since the various articles are intended to help – not to promote confusion.

   Next up, the Dreamspawn Template is designed to be applied to Mystic Companions – and specifically notes that companions provide a +6 CP bonus to anyone. That’s in there to make them more affordable, since I wanted small children to be able to afford to “buy” a powerful monster of their very own.

   What’s been left out there is a world law from the campaign sheet for a Dreamspawn game. It goes like this:

   Familiars are essentially a part of the character, and thus are almost perfectly reliable. As far as Companions of other sorts go however… Companions are independent, if fairly loyal, creatures. They have their own needs, wants, and desires, and will act on them. They have limited patience. They have innate instincts and behaviors, coupled with a heightened intelligence and abilities. They will sometimes do things that they thinks that I would want if I was thinking “clearly” by their standards – or things that they erroneously think that I would want. They can be tricked, bribed, or lured. They may set off traps or attack people they feel are threatening. They are obliging, but they are not automatons (unless they’re golems or robots). They are powerful and dangerous entities, and must be cared for and treated with respect. In a game where this rule is in effect – and a lot of attention is thereby focused on Companions – all companions bestow a six-point bonus on their “masters” just as familiars do.

   In the article on upgrading a Dragon with some Companions, a couple of lines got left out accidently (I’ll be reinserting them later). Roykorishtian would be using the same trick that our Beastmaster was using, providing the points for the Companions by purchasing three character points worth of the Companion/Transference ability. Yes, that could easily get a bit abusive again – but he is an NPC and a black dragon; they’re noted for being a bit abusive. Besides… he’s using those points to buy some self-healing abilities, and without some healing assistance it can take a dragon quite a while to recover from a fight – far longer than it takes a group of adventurers. That seems a bit unfair somehow, at least to me.

   Finally, in the articles on Relics, the sword Lawgiver is noted as bestowing a six character point bonus on it’s owner. In this case, it’s simply that Lawgiver is a Familiar, although what type of Companion it was was only implied (since it uses the “animated object” notes from under Familiars), not explicitly stated.

   Hopefully that will clear up any confusion!

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