Groundbreaking – Familiar Blues

The Human Premise.
Growing up, many kids want nothing more than to be a grown up. When they are able to focus on this desire, they want to go do grown up things with their parents, trying to fulfill tasks and errands when asked or even trying to predict when their parents will want something done so that they can get that attaboy for being “grown up.” Some parents work with their kids to harness this eagerness, while others either don’t notice or aren’t able to properly capitalize due to situational circumstances (such as needing to constantly shush a kid in a quiet office instead of teaching them the trade). As they grow up, these former kids form much of their social skills based on the responses they received to their attempts to help; always with mixed results. As adults, we have had words to describe our feelings for so long, that we are often completely oblivious to the fact that when a child is injured (physically or mentally) they have no words for, often not even the concept of, the feelings they are feeling. Some people choose to seek professional help to work through their thoughts on the subject and help themselves find the positive, or simply to speak to somebody that will listen to their feelings without trying to change their behavior or teach them to grow up.

The Animal Analog.
Many people don’t have children, but instead choose to have a family of pets, most often dogs and cats. These families aren’t terribly different than a family with children, they just have a different dynamic due to the animals having an intelligence cap (supposedly comparable to a 5 year old human). Even with these differences, pets often need their owners/parents to understand that they have feelings too, and that they need to be able to play and act like an animal instead of constantly being shushed while guests are over. Take the situation of a child not having words for their feelings and consider it with your pet … that is not even capable of speech, let alone our higher level brain functions. There is going to be some frustration there, I assure you.

Familiars.
They are animals, they have intelligence, the should be treated like children being raised by a parent, but they are more often than not simply treated as a pet that can do more advanced tricks due to their higher intelligence and magical powers. Go fetch that scroll. Take this spell and go touch that barbarian. Bring me my potion. There is very little back and forth with a familiar, and that makes me wonder how many old wizards aren’t dying of natural causes; or perhaps that spell that fizzled due to a missing component wasn’t an accident. If people (adult and children) have the ability to speak with a professional about their unresolved feelings, and animals can too for that matter, then familiars are a class of sentient creature that is ripe for the need of professional support.

Whimsy Fuzzibottoms
Born smallest of her litter of seven, Whimsy Fuzzibottoms was adopted by the family’s youngest daughter, who wanted to ensure that her small size did not mean she was pushed around by her siblings. Over the years, the daughter’s love of books meant that she was read to every day. The family managed to scrape together enough money to send the daughter off the college, and as the perfect study partner, Whimsy went too. As her girl grew in wizardly power, so too did Whimsy grow into her power. Part of their education involved socializing with the other familiars. As her girl grew into a woman, she began to spend more of her time away from her books and studies, leaving a more aware Whimsy with more time to explore and socialize alone. It did not take her long before she started to notice commonalities of the emotional states and the students and their familiars. Additionally, she began to notice the differences in how common animals were treated from familiars, both in positive and negative ways. At some point, she realized that this was much the same as other young adults being treated differently from the students.

Dr. Whimsy Fuzzibottoms
There was an event in her human’s life that changed everything. It was horrifying, and it almost broke her human. She was unable to help her cope as she had during all their downs prior. Finally, her human began to speak with a professional, and she started to recover. This was the “Aha” moment in her career. She had been watching the other familiars at their academy and noticing trends of behavior that implied something was wrong, but none of them ever talked about it. She found her calling, and so too, it seemed, did her human. The help that her human received set her on a course to help others in the same way that let her find herself again, and this was exactly what Whimsy was hoping for. Again, they studied together until they were accredited by the college. They found a small office just outside the grounds and began to work with former colleagues and students that were in need of support to make it through their tough moments, days, or lives in general. While the human world at large was relatively unchanged by the addition of another professional in the area, the college itself saw an uptick in positive behavior. More exceptional, but almost completely unreported, was the enormous uptick in the attitudes across the entire student body’s familiars …

I, Randal, have two dogs that are older than my three kids: 5 y/o (dog), 4 y/o (dog), 2x 3 y/o (kid), 1 y/o (kid).  I work at home, and my dogs spend all day laying around with me while I work. I try to walk them every day and play with them during lunch, but this past year or so has cut that down to walking almost daily because work is demanding and my kids are higher on the food chain after work. I can see how it affects my dogs by how they act around the kids and react to me playing with my kids after work, so I take them to a “Doggie Daycare” facility here in town from time to time where they can play with a full pack in a supervised environment without my presence specifically to give them some social time where I know they will be safe (our dog parks suck).


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Randal Meyer

As a lover of crunch (rules and numbers), Randal is always tinkering with rules options. His love of magic users has led him to always fuss with the mechanics of magic and magic items. Years of GMing on the fly have given him vast amounts of ideas and content from which to draw on for adventures (ideas, plots, NPCs). When not working, playing with his kids, bowling, or running a PF campaign, Randal is likely writing some new mobile web app (http://halfmugtavern.blog) to enhance the experience of playing Pathfinder!

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