Familiar, Pseudo-

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Familiar, Pseudo-
Frequency:Very rare
Activity Cycle:Any
Diet:Special (see below)
Intelligence:High (13-14)
Alignment:Neutral evil
No. Appearing:1
Armor Class:Varies
Hit Dice:Varies
No. of Attacks:Varies
Special Attacks:See below
Special Defenses:+2 or better to hit
Magic Resistance:Nil
Size:T (less than 2' tall)
Morale:Steady (11-12)
XP Value:Varies

A pseudo-familiar is a twisted, evil creature that appears to be a normal wizard's familiar. Called when the find familiar spell is cast in the Demiplane of Dread, these sinister beings confer the benefits they would normally bring to their summoners, but reap a deadly harvest in return.

Pseudo-familiars look just like their traditional counterparts (cats, toads, crows, etc.), though they appear to be even more splendid and healthy specimens than usual. Their colors are brighter, they appear robust and healthy, and their eyes gleam with intelligence.

Pseudo-familiars innately understand all human and demihuman tongues and speak telepathically with their chosen wizard and each other.

Combat: Though preferring not to engage in melee combat unless given no alternative. pseudo-familiars can attack and inflict damage as a normal member of their species (cats use claws and bite, crows peck, etc.) Because of the powerful nature of these creatures, they always have one more Hit Die than their mundane cousins (often giving them a better THAC0) and a +2 bonus to their Damage Rolls. In addition, pseudo-familiars are much faster than normal animals, making the AC of such creatures 1 point better than other animals of their type. Pseudo-familiars can only be hit by +2 or better weapons, although magic affects them normally.

The most notable power of the pseudo-familiar is a spell-like ability of vampiric regeneration similar to that created by magical rings of that type. This allows them to drain hit points from wounded creatures and transfer them elsewhere. Whenever the familiar or its master takes damage, the creature actuates its power. Each round thereafter, any wounded being within 30 feet of the familiar loses 2 hit points. These points are divided evenly between the familiar and wizard and added to their hit point totals until both are restored to full health. All creatures within range of the familiar, whether friend or foe, are subject to this attack. The creature's eyes glow with a weird purple light while it is using this power.

The pseudo-familiar can also use this power to drain hit points from sleeping characters. but it uses this ability only when there are no wounded ones available. This variation of the vampiric regeneration ability is used when the wizard or his familiar is injured, but the rest of his companions are in full health. This attack is much more difficult and drains hit points at a rate of only 2 per hour. Those losing hit points in this manner suffer no obvious wounds, though their sleep is restless and full of nightmares. Upon awakening, victims feel sore and unrested, though they may not realize until later that they have sustained injuries. The creature can cause damage night after night, draining and exhausting the members of a party a little at a time without being discovered.

If the wizard learns of the harm being done to his allies and takes no steps to prevent it, he must make a powers check. The chance of failing this check is 1% per hit point the familiar drained that round. A new check must be made each round.

Habitat/Society: Pseudo-familiars live to control their alleged master and kill his companions. Over the course of his time with the familiar the wizard gradually loses the ability to distinguish between his own desires and goals and those of his familiar. To simulate this, the familiar's so called master must make a saving throw vs. spell every fortnight or fall under the creature's control. A cumulative -1 penalty is applied to this save for every fortnight after the first.

Separating oneself from a pseudo-familiar is not an easy thing. The link between master and servant cannot be broken through use of a protection from evil, remove curse, or a similar spell. As a rule, nothing less powerful than an atonement, dispel evil, or banishment spell will suffice to free the wizard from his burden.

Of course, it is possible to attack and even kill the familiar, but the risks involved for the wizard (see the find familiar spell) make this a dangerous proposition at best.

Ecology: Pseudo-familiars sustain themselves on the hit points they absorb from other creatures. While they need no other nourishment, they do sometimes nibble at the foods their normal counterparts enjoy. These creatures never sleep, keeping a watchful vigil over their masters throughout the night.