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 Story Award: Spell (Find Kercpa Familiar)
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
10107 Posts

Posted - 01 Mar 2021 :  17:50:18  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
So, someone over on the piazza forums was just looking for ideas for a forest gnome's familiar. After looking at the published 5e available options for more powerful familiars, they were thinking of using a pseudodragon (which is perfectly fine). However, I figured I would throw out an idea that might require a little more work, but that I thought they might like more.

I then started thinking after that about mechanics, and I thought... what if this spell were a story award that also works in to giving a player a quest that they'll talk about for years to come? This concept can open up a new avenue of awards as well, and I was thinking I'd present a base idea here and see if you guys can help me improve it.

BASE IDEA: A kercpa is "on a quest" to solve SOMETHING of the DM's design. He knows he's going to die, and so he makes a last wish to his archfey patron/forest god to "let him be reborn as many times as necessary so that he can stop this evil". His wish is granted in an unusual way. He becomes a living spell of a 2nd level "find kercpa familiar" spell. This living spell must seek out a wizard/sorcerer/warlock or yes, even a bard/ranger/paladin/druid/cleric who can't normally cast find familiar..... to bond with. It appears as a little squirrel who appears to be stuck in some kind of loop, reaching out and saying "Help me! I must blah blah blah". When the character touches the living spell, it disappears, only to become a ritual spell in the character's mind that he always knows/has memorized. Because of how it was learned, the player can't relay how to cast this spell to anyone else ever.

When the player casts this spell, he can get a standard kercpa if he casts it using a 2nd level spell slot. He must also give up a hit dice. The resulting familiar is a "standard kercpa" for which I'd have to make the rules, and I'd have him come with some standard animal of the DM's choice as a mount from some list. The kercpa could also attack unlike the 1st lvl spell (again, this is a story award, and thus why its got a boost). The DM could then have the kercpa "level up" as the player does (but at a slower rate), and have the DM design the upper level variant of the kercpa as an NPC that he can kill without fear. Summoning the upper level version requires the ritualized use of a higher level spell slot and more hit die (limiting how many times per day the familiar can be summoned). What's more, if the player ever dies, this is an award that can't be transferred to another party member unless the DM wants it to happen. Also, gaining a "higher level version of the spell" also becomes another story award that can be given to a player without worries of it being transferred.

To note, I could also do something similar with a "dark" version of the spell that's "find skiurid familiar", and perhaps offer it as the story award that the bad guy has (which also becomes something the players can't take and monetize) to portray "the dread enemy of the player's kercpa familiar".

That's the basic idea. Sound decent? Got some ideas for mount names? Got tips to improve the story/spell concept? Hit me with anything that comes to your mind.

from what I posted over on the piazza forums
So, what I'm about to propose to you would require a little more work on your part as a DM, but I think both you and the player would immensely enjoy this idea. I've been playing a kercpa (picture a squirrel.... and its squirrel sized... but dressed wearing a green cloak and a robin hood hat and maybe some fingerless gloves... no pants or other clothes). It could be really fun to have a kercpa as a familiar and then give it class levels in some class that your player might appreciate (maybe druid or cleric or paladin or ranger). Unlike other "special" tiny familiars, they can't fly. They can't turn invisible. They don't have special spells. But they are intelligent and can try to talk to folks (they may not know common, but they know elven).

So, since they can't fly on their own... your tiny kercpa familiar might then have an animal mount (or mounts). This can be any size small creature in essence.... so something like a goose or a swan might work (trying to stick to more quirky mounts than say bloodhawk/eagle/vulture/giant wasp, etc...), as might a "giant hummingbird" that's size small. They might also ride something like an al-mir'aj/jackalope/blink dog/giant weasel/giant badger/giant rat(mouse), or a less special goat/deer/, at other times (or something more threatening like a panther, jackal, death dog, or wolf).

The reason why I express this option, is this kercpa must be "special" since familiars are typically the summoned "spirit" of some creature that takes on a mortal form. These are typically animals with no intelligence. But then they offer ideas like pseudodragon, pixie, sprite, etc.... which all have some nice abilities. So, perhaps this kercpa, by having class levels, also has some "tailored" abilities that you can define. You can also give him a special story for WHY he in particular is a kercpa that can be a familiar. Maybe there's some quest that the Kercpa needs to solve, and that he previously died trying to accomplish. So, now, his spirit comes back as a familiar in hopes that he can find a master that will help him accomplish it. If he gets killed, the master knows his special version of find familiar to call THIS kercpa back.

As for its mount, perhaps this particular familiar spell was found with a "special" bag of tricks that belonged to the kercpa. You design the bag of tricks. You pick what options can come out of it. Maybe it can only produce one creature. Maybe you give it 3 or four options. Maybe the creatures show up completely "saddled", etc... If not a bag of tricks, maybe a figurine of wondrous power. Lots of options. Main thing, he can then summon some fun mount for you to use like "Honkers the War Goose" or "Keeki the small bobcat tressym" or "Hoohoo the size small owlcat/griffin" or "Hoppers the al-mir'aj / Jackalope" or "Blinky the Blink Dog" or "Preeny the vicious War Peacock" or "Gobbles the War turkey".

In the end, this likely won't be hugely overpowering, especially since you can give whatever levels you want to the familiar. The bag of tricks, I'd recommend that it must be attuned by a kercpa, so that it becomes the magic item OF the familiar.... and maybe it's the size of a small dice bag. Another idea could be that your familiar... summons a familiar... that might be a little too wonky for some folks though.

If you are interested in this idea. I do have rules I created on DM's guild for a kercpa character. They're pay what you want, so I'm not worried about the money. If you do this idea though, I'd love to hear any stories on what you did. I think it could be really fun for you and your player.
https://www.dmsguild.com/product/297919/The-Kercpa-the-Tiny-Squirrelfolk-of-the-Forgotten-Realms


Oh, and if you want a picture of a kercpa with a bag of tricks pulling out a deer
https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:4064089
I've got a bunch of kercpa models up there too if you want other pictures (search for kercpa or squirrelfolk on thingiverse)

Also, just because I'm not pushing my product, over on DM's Guild there's someone else that apparently put out some rules for kercpa about a year after me. His isn't pay what you want, but you can do a full preview of the rules he created. You may like it as well.
https://www.dmsguild.com/product/346272/Kercpa--Squirrelfolk-Lineage-and-Subclasses


Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Seethyr
Senior Scribe

USA
972 Posts

Posted - 02 Mar 2021 :  02:41:36  Show Profile  Visit Seethyr's Homepage Send Seethyr a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Have you considered adjusting this to the sidekick rules from Tasha’s? It seems like much of what you are describing is exactly a sidekick rather than a familiar. The rules might be to your liking if you haven’t seen them yet.

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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
10107 Posts

Posted - 02 Mar 2021 :  02:49:31  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Seethyr

Have you considered adjusting this to the sidekick rules from Tasha’s? It seems like much of what you are describing is exactly a sidekick rather than a familiar. The rules might be to your liking if you haven’t seen them yet.



Yeah, its similar, bit different. If you get a sidekick killed, you have to raise them. Get a familiar killed... recast the spell. It can have an entirely different dynamic in some ways.

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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TBeholder
Great Reader

2055 Posts

Posted - 02 Mar 2021 :  15:17:12  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
...Kercpa? Is it a 5e fad, to have a separate spell for every critter?

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
10107 Posts

Posted - 02 Mar 2021 :  19:11:51  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TBeholder

...Kercpa? Is it a 5e fad, to have a separate spell for every critter?



Nope, just making a find familiar spell for 5e that doesn't make a completely disposable character that lacks all memory of what occurred earlier to it, while also not making having said creature die not be the end of the world either. I figured "that doesn't fit a cat", and it might be interesting if the spell itself is a living thing that seeks out its own "master" to help it solve a quest. The title itself of the spell might be "summon a familiar named xyz", because you are summoning a very specific creature unlike traditional conjurations that just pull a random version of a creature type. Its not a new idea, but it IS a new idea to 5e to summon a specific creature (at least I don't think they have any specific spell that does that), and it is a new way to do familiars as well (which all were called living beings previously and not a "spirit" that then takes on corporeal form).

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas

Edited by - sleyvas on 02 Mar 2021 19:26:40
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sleyvas
Great Reader

USA
10107 Posts

Posted - 03 Mar 2021 :  14:24:49  Show Profile Send sleyvas a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I just wanted to do this up... so I wrote it up and stuck it up on DM's guild yesterday. Like everything I stick up there, its pay what you want. The mechanics aren't amazing or anything, but its more a new way to use things like hit die, familiars, etc... to make them feel more like the traditional familiar and less like "the disposable cat that I send in to test the hallway for free".

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/348755/Story-Award--Find-Kercpa-Familiar?src=newest_in_dmg

Alavairthae, may your skill prevail

Phillip aka Sleyvas
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