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Your Whispering Homunculus: Peculiar Relationships

Your Whispering Homunculus: Peculiar Relationships

Familiar by Mike Lowe

Art by Mike Lowe

The odd quirks of spending altogether too much time with a familiar or homunculi and the perils thereof…

“So, dear master, this is the end. The magic jar is readied, and the spellbook is before me, yet still you snore.

“How sad it has to come to this. I only hope my trotter will not hamper my casting. Let the gods of magic and familiars and pig parts be on my side.

“So, goodbye cruel master, prepare to be my slave…”

Although we say it and shouldn’t, this whole master/familiar/follower/companion relationship is odd. It can’t be healthy, spending all that time together; one party giving out all the orders, the other doing exactly as instructed. Surely at some time one party is going to rub off on the other, or worse, rub the other up the wrong way?

The chart below gives you a few suggestions about the quirkier behavior exhibited by familiars and homunculi. It could also, if you wish, be extended to other close relationships such as animal companions, animated undead followers, or animated objects that spend just that little too long in human (or elf or gnome or goblin) company. Some of these traits may not suit particular familiars of followers, adjust them or assign them as you wish.

As ever, consider the YWH ideas as gentle suggestions to sprinkle like a delicate seasoning into your adventures. If you like your adventures a little more hot and spicy, consider adding a few traits to each familiar, or have familiars take on odd quirks with each other, or better, have them take on unwelcome habits of the PCs themselves.

  1. Has a tendency to stand at the side of one sleeping character, not necessarily its master or mistress
  2. Is prone to making odd metallic pets from bits of metal and bones and giving them names
  3. Sings odd songs without words during darkness
  4. Tends to etch the previous day’s events into any unblemished flat metal or wooden objects when master is asleep
  5. Often disturbs character’s sleep by sobbing quietly
  6. Has long conversations with an imaginary friend called Kettle
  7. Stares at the stars
  8. Fidgets as though trying to sleep and fails abysmally
  9. Loudly counts the number of seconds a particular character sleeps
  10. Sighs and moves about impetuously as though bored at times of inactivity
  11. Takes on and overuses a particular trait of their master
  12. Frequently catches imaginary fleas
  13. Is schizophrenic, and takes on the personality of an awakened badger called Grudd as an alter ego
  14. When alone or bored, argues about the day’s events and how it could have served its master or mistress better
  15. Scalds itself harshly and loudly overnight for any perceived failures in service
  16. Catches and eats flies constantly
  17. Scratches obsessively
  18. Collects flowers and decorates itself with them
  19. Stands guard atop its master’s or mistress’s head as he or she sleeps
  20. Swears obsessively to itself in darkness
  21. Has an odd fascination with spoons and cannot help wanting to touch and collect them
  22. Stares at red-haired characters or creatures
  23. Moans about money for no apparent reason
  24. Picks its nose obsessively
  25. Cries and whimpers if sent anywhere further than 20 ft. from its master or mistress
  26. Is terrified of mice
  27. Makes wigs from straw and moss
  28. Dresses itself in raggedy objects resembling its master’s or mistress’s clothes
  29. Nods in understanding at everyone nearby, no matter what the subject
  30. Tries to interject the word hamster into every sentence it speaks
  31. Steals sausages whenever it sees them and hides them for an imaginary dog
  32. Lurks in rafters
  33. Lurks in hay or straw whenever it is nearby
  34. Pretends to sleep and snores loudly
  35. Is terrified of thunder
  36. Obsessively searches for and collects four-leaf clovers
  37. Is jealous of any other familiar or companion
  38. Apes the behavior of any other familiar or companion
  39. Belittles the behavior of any other familiar or companion
  40. Sings hymns at inappropriate times
  41. Belches whenever its master or mistress has eaten
  42. Agrees with absolutely everything its master or mistress says, loudly
  43. When in front of strangers, announces its master or mistress every time they are about to speak
  44. Takes a shine to babies and seeks to comfort them and cuddle them but knows it will be punished if found out
  45. Smokes a pipe
  46. Obsessively trims its nails, claws, or teeth
  47. Refers to itself in the third person
  48. Refers to itself as her ladyship
  49. Is convinced it is a resurrected saint called Saint Lutheria who is in the familiar’s body as punishment for an unknown transgression
  50. Tries to ride any pig nearby
  51. Collects wool from sheep a little too enthusiastically
  52. Wears a hat or other head covering at all times, convinced it is going bald
  53. Is pretentious or over-fawning to one particular character
  54. Scribbles nonsense poetry
  55. Cannot bear to see blank paper and draws monkey figures on any such surface
  56. Collects shells, and when it cannot carry any more, deposits them in any available friendly pocket, pack or other receptacle nearby
  57. Collects dead mice, and when it cannot carry any more, deposits them in any available friendly receptacle nearby
  58. Collects earwigs, and when it cannot carry any more, deposits them in any available friendly receptacle nearby
  59. Cannot abide the smell of cheese
  60. Lectures its master or mistress on healthy eating every time he or she eats, obsessively convinced the character is about to die of some terrible bowel illness
  61. Drinks beer whenever it sees it
  62. Milks any cow it comes within 30 ft. of
  63. Completely ignores one character at all times
  64. Sleeps hanging upside down and fails to do so
  65. Somehow always seems to be immediately behind its master or mistress
  66. Turns all its master’s daily tasks into epic poetry
  67. Sings constantly about its master
  68. Has an obsession with dirt and is constantly cleaning up
  69. Has a pet spider called Horatio
  70. Is convinced one of its master’s associates is destined to die horribly, and ponders it constantly
  71. Drops in words in Draconic, thinking it makes it sound sophisticated
  72. Seems to collect mud and smells
  73. Insists its name is Albert
  74. Wears a dress
  75. Wears a nightcap after dark
  76. Has its own familiar or companion; a corn doll hedgehog it commands to carry out dangerous imaginary missions
  77. Every time master or mistress eats, comments on how good the food is and starts salivating
  78. Is terrified of geese
  79. Spends its idle time making model carts from twigs
  80. Makes maps of all its exploits, including the most mundane ones
  81. Cannot abide being near anything lilac
  82. Is always arranging imaginary parties to celebrate its master’s or mistress’s achievement and sending out pathetic homemade invitations
  83. Loudly confirms at dawn that today is going to be a great day
  84. Loudly confirms at dawn that it has a very bad feeling about today
  85. Speaks in seven different voices
  86. Sits, heels, and plays dead like a dog
  87. Moos at inopportune moments
  88. Wears a cape of rags which it tosses contemptuously when leaving a room
  89. Wears a monocle
  90. Refers to its master or mistress as the Great One
  91. Constantly perches on its master’s or mistress’s shoulder and examines his or her inner ear
  92. Whenever its master or mistress is still, perches itself on his or her feet
  93. Is obsessive about a particular sort of food and begs for it constantly
  94. Catches and torments mice
  95. Has a pet moth
  96. Wears a wedding ring and insists it is married to a handsome prince in a far-away kingdom it constantly wishes to reach
  97. Curls up in front of any fire so close that it begins to smoulder
  98. Brings discarded objects back to characters that threw them away, sometimes several days after the event
  99. Somehow always seems to end up in one particular character’s bed at night
  100. Somehow seems to end up in one character’s clothes every morning whilst he or she is dressing

3 thoughts on “Your Whispering Homunculus: Peculiar Relationships”

  1. Heh heh, thanks James, more nasty homunculi horrors coming soon:)

    Plus, great to see the word jive making a comeback – mnaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


  2. Excellent as always Mr Pett. I’ve always thought the slave/master relationship of wizard and familiar should be be a bit more like a comedy double act with the quirks of either party being of constant irritation to the other. Tony Hancock and Sid James in Hancock’s Half Hour springs to mind as an excellent template for such a dysfunctional relationship.There is plenty in the list above to generate a distinctive foil for the PC spellcaster so many thanks for that.

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