Saturday, October 1, 2022

Palladium Psychic Powers

This is an edited version of something from my old website; I cut out the introductory, in-character, preamble, and went straight to the rules. This is late 90s stuff, just in my defense.

The Nature and Development of Psionic Powers


Mechanics

Well, now that we've listened to Ellegon spew on in-character about psionics, let's see if we two poor mortals can actually frame all of his shit into rules, hmmm?

By and large, his divisions don't need much explanation, except for the part about latent psychics. Basically, the table in step four of creating a character should be altered to look like this:
01-09 Major Psionics
10-25 Minor Psionics
26-55 Latent Psychic (not as the BTS PCC, though)
56-00 Non-Psychic
Note that one doesn't have to take what the table says... they can always trade down, taking minor psionics instead of major, or latent instead of minor.

We never really liked that minor and major psychics had the same saving throws. After all, a major is at least twice a powerful, sometimes even more (Compare, on a psionics level only, a cyber-knight and a crazy and you get the idea). So, I altered the save tables to reflect this.
Latent and non-psychics: roll greater than 15 (e.g. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20)
Minor psychics: roll greater than 13
Major psychics: roll greater than 11 (same as always)
Master psychics: roll greater than 9
Of course, this is before all your bonuses are factored in.

Learning new powers works just like learning new skills. Whenever you have the option to learn new skills, you can instead (not always also) pick up a psionic power. This can even be done at first level, though we don't recommend it.

To get a minor psionic power (anything from the lesser categories), you just spend one skill. If its a secondary skill, you get that power at first level ability. If its an OCC related skill, it is assumed that you studied the power, so you get it at your actual level.

To get a "Super" power, you first need to have 3 minor psionic abilities. You then must spend 2 skills to master the power. If both are secondary, you get that power at first level, if both are OCC Related you get it at your own level, and if one is secondary and the other is OCC Related, you get the power at one-half your own level. Note that the rule about 3 minor powers to get a super power is just for the first one. If someone were crazy enough, they could have 3 minor powers and all the super powers.

To move up in power levels requires investing a lot of skills in gaining new powers, once you exceed the limits for your current level of power, you start acting like the next higher one. Once a latent psychic learns his first power, he gains his M.E. as an I.S.P. base. Before that time, they have no ISP and register as non-psionic to most probes, but a See Aura will show that they have psionic potential. Once that minor psychic picks up his fifth power or his first super power, he becomes a major psychic, with all the saving throw advantages that carries. Also, starting at the next level (not the one that they just got), they start gaining ISP like a member of that power level. So, if I became a master psychic by picking up some more powers at level five, I roll my 1d6+1 like all major psychics at level 5. Then, at level six, I gain 10 ISP, just like the master psychic I am.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Mutant Rise

 So, a couple years ago, I got the idea to make a series of Savage Worlds settings about mutant animals. The kids and I were watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the time, and so the idea was to do 3 of them... Mutant Dawn, Mutant Rise, and Mutant War, representing "mutants in the modern dawn", "mutants in cyberpunk dystopia", and "mutants in the post-Apocalypse", respectively. Then Big Apples Sewer Samurai was released. And then my artist got bogged down in life. And then PEG introduced its own very small race rules. And, so, pretty much everything I was going to do with those books was done. So, the project has quietly died.


I am particularly proud of my Life Path character creation. It likely isn't new, but I felt it worked well. (Sorry about the weird background color; I don't have the energy to reformat all the text, and nothing matches).

Mutant Dawn

So, a couple years ago, I got the idea to make a series of Savage Worlds settings about mutant animals. The kids and I were watching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at the time, and so the idea was to do 3 of them... Mutant Dawn, Mutant Rise, and Mutant War, representing "mutants in the modern dawn", "mutants in cyberpunk dystopia", and "mutants in the post-Apocalypse", respectively. Then Big Apples Sewer Samurai was released. And then my artist got bogged down in life. And then PEG introduced its own very small race rules. And, so, pretty much everything I was going to do with those books was done. So, the project has quietly died.

I am particularly proud of my Life Path character creation. It likely isn't new, but I felt it worked well. (Sorry about the weird background color; I don't have the energy to reformat all the text, and nothing matches).

Mutant Dawn: A Savage Worlds Setting


Mutation: it is the key to our evolution. It has enabled us to evolve from a single-celled organism into the dominant species on the planet. This process is slow, normally taking thousands and thousands of years. But every few hundred millennia, evolution leaps forward. -- Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier, X-Men (2000)


“Dominant Species” is entirely a matter of opinion. -- “Gorgeous George”, Mutant Crocodile named as prime suspect in over seventy disappearances.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Hackmaster: Bugbears at a Glance

Bugbears at a Glance

Strength +6
Intelligence -1
Wisdom -1
Dexterity +5
Constitution +6
Looks -4
Charisma -2


Pros
*Size Large; 15 pt hit point kicker, 20 point knock-back, able to use many large weapons (except bows and polearms) in one hand.
*Claws do 2d4p damage (can use on near-perfect defense)
*Unarmored DR of 3
*Initiative Die 1 less than normal
*Free Purchases: Hiding, Listening, Sneaking, Observation
*Low-light vision

Cons
*Horrible racial reaction tables; most player character races Hate them, with gnomes, halflings, and pixie-fairies fearing them. Half-orcs and sil-karg generally merely dislike them. Even among other humanoids, feelings towards bugbears seldom rise above Dislike; they may be used, but they’re not considered allies. Even other bugbears merely Tolerate other bugbears from outside their own clan.
*Large Size: Goods and services are 5-8 times more expensive than for medium and small creatures, including, especially, food. Bugbears must consume twice the rations of medium humans, and twice the water. Seldom able to find armor that fits, resulting in piecemeal armor (which usually has the DR of its worst component, and the other penalties of its most restrictive).


Sidebar: Living La Vida Grande

Bugbears are unlike most other PC races; they are taller than most humans (averaging about 6’6”), and can weigh over 350 pounds. Despite this, their attributes are capped as with other PCs; they can have no more than 20/00 Strength, nor 22/00 Constitution. Any adjustment above these numbers will instead place them at these numbers.

Due to their size, however, their carrying capacity is twice that of a human of the same strength, and their reach with human-sized weapons is 1’ greater than normal, and they may use many large weapons in one hand (anything with a reach of 6’ or less, or bows, which require 2 hands by their design, not necessarily because of their size). Unlike grevans, they are unlikely to have huge-sized weapons; at the lower end of Large, they cannot use truly huge weapons, despite their strength, and are disinclined to make any for their own use. More improvised Huge-sized weapons (such as massive clubs), suited to bugbear hands, see their reach increased by 1 foot per size they are increased, and their die size increased by 1, or add a die if the die size is already d12; a bugbear-sized club is a large weapon doing 2d6p damage, with a reach of 3.5’ feet. Conversely, they find small weapons difficult to use, unless they are meant to be thrown; human-sized weapons with 1 foot of reach or less inflict a -2 penalty to strike and defense; they are akin to trying to fight with a pen knife one keeps on a keychain.

Bugbears consider human-sized shields as one size lower than they are; a buckler is nothing, a small shield is a buckler, a medium shield is a small shield, etc.


Classes:
Fighter: 40
Ranger: 60
Barbarian: 40
Thief: 35
Rogue: 70
Assassin: 30
Mage: 75
Fighter/Mage: 55
Fighter/Thief: 35
Thief/Mage: 55
Cleric: 70

Saturday, February 19, 2022

5e Monk Subclass: Brotherhood of the Bond

 Brotherhood of the Bond


The Brotherhood of the Bond is an order of spies in service to an island nation. Unlike many monastic orders, most are not trained from their youth to service, instead entering after a time in the military (or prison), and demonstrating exceptional talent, loyalty, and drive... maladjusted young men and women who give little thought to sacrificing others to protect Queen and Country. Building on their basic military or criminal backgrounds, the Brotherhood of the Bond introduces them to the arts of covertcy, as well as extensive training in unarmed and improvisational combat. Most members of the Brotherhood are LN, but LE and LG are not uncommon; those who are LE are prized for certain assignments due to their practicality, while the LG members frequently serve on security details for their aged queen and her family. While not a truly mystical order, the Brotherhood of the Bond holds that immortality comes through service to something beyond oneself; in their case, their nation. Many monks believe that exceptional agents will be reborn, again and again, always to rejoin the Bond and serve in Her Majesty's secret service.


The Brotherhood of the Bond does not have many of the traditional strictures placed upon monks, save discipline. As part of their work, they are frequently expected to drink, eat, and consort with all sorts of persons, in all sorts of situations. What must not waver, however, is discipline. They drink, but they avoid drunkeness. They eat such foods as are presented, but they avoid gorging themselves. They may gamble, take lovers, lie, cheat, and steal... but never from or to Her Majesty, her government, or their superiors. They may deal with money and other treasure, but keep little for themselves, returning or gifting most to the treasury as soon as they are able. 


One's mastery is simply noted by one's level of experience, while one's assignment within the Brotherhood is noted by a complex code of one or two letters. This code is understood by all of the Bond, and so a simple three-character designation can tell a Brother or Sister much of what they need to know of another member.


The current head of the Brotherhood of the Bond is known to her underlings as M16, with M indicating one whose assignment is "Mastery", or leadership of other Brothers and Sisters. She is a formidable woman, even in her later years, and a frequent confidant of the Queen.



3rd level: Spectre

If not already proficient in them, the monk becomes proficient in one of the following skills: Stealth, Sleight of Hand, Investigation, Insight, Perception, Deception, or Persuasion. They also gain proficiency with one of the following, the disguise kit, forgery kit, or thieves tools.

As a reaction, upon failing a roll with one of these skills or tools, they may spend 1 ki point to roll the test again, and take the second result. This applies regardless of whether they are proficient with the skill or not.


6th level: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

As covert agents, the monk must be able to pass in any number of professions, and use any number of tools. For 1 ki point, the monk may gain proficiency in a skill, tool, language, or weapon for 10 minutes. For 2 ki points, they may gain expertise in a skill or tool, with which they are already proficient, for 1 minute. These may be stacked, allowing the monk to become an instant expert with a skill or tool for 1 minute, with proficiency continuing for the full 10 minutes.


11th level: License to Kill

At 11th level, you may make a sudden strike against a target who you have surprised, or against whom you have advantage on attacks. Once per turn, against such a target, the monk does additional damage equal to their current ki points.


17th level: You Only Live Twice

At 17th level, the monk is able to transcend death in order to remain in service to Her Majesty and the Brotherhood. At the moment of death, and for up to three days thereafter, the monk may choose to reincarnate, as the spell. The new body will reappear in a safe place, up to five miles from the place of death or the current location of the mostly intact body.

In addition, members of the Brotherhood of this level may cast reincarnation on other members of the Brotherhood. This requires one hour and 5 ki points, but no verbal or material components, only constant contact with the corpse.


Saturday, February 12, 2022

5e: Bard College of Arcana

After discussing it with a friend (who is currently playing a Lore Bard), I've made some big changes to this subclass, narrowing their scope a bit. The original is at the bottom, but very small.


College of Arcana

The college of Arcana are different from the other Bards, and broke off from the College of Lore about three score years ago. While the College of Lore focuses on a breadth of knowledge, the College of Arcana focuses exclusively on the study of magic. In that study, they learn the basic secrets of wizardly magic; not the indepth secrets of the wizard schools, but enough that they begin to keep a spellbook and prepare spells like a wizard, in addition to some access to bard magic.

3rd: Additional Skill

At 3rd level, College of Arcana bards receive proficiency in Arcana, or in another skill of choice if they are already proficient. They may apply their 3rd level Bard expertise to Arcana, even if they just learned it.

3rd: Wizard Magic

At 3rd level, the College of Arcana bard switches their style of casting to that of a Wizard; they maintain a spellbook, may learn new spells from the spellbooks of wizards and other bards of the College, and prepare spells each morning. They use Intelligence as their casting attribute, are able to cast any of their prepared spells using any appropriate slots, and so on; all as outlined under "Spellcasting" in the Wizard class description, and the Your Spellbook sidebar, on page 114 of the Player's Handbook.

Their initial spellbook contains all of their 1st level Bard spells, as well as a 2nd level spell from either the Bard spell list or from their chosen Wizard schools. They may no longer cast spells as Bards; Charisma is no longer their casting attribute, and they must prepare spells, not cast spontaneously. They do retain Bardic ritual casting, but may not longer use musical instruments as arcane foci, though they may use arcane foci appropriate to wizards.

As they learned Bardic Magic first, they do have the bonus that all 5 of the bard spells they learned at 1st and 2nd level are prepared at all times. As they advance in levels, they learn spells from either the Bard list or their selected Wizard schools, and all of these spells must be prepared. They may not learn additional Bard spells except through level gain or by finding them in the spellbook of another bard of the College of Arcana. Wizards are not able to cast these Bard spells (unless they are also Wizard spells).

3rd Level: School Selection
At levels 3, 6, and 14, the bard selects a single wizard school. They may learn and cast spells from this school, and gain the 2nd level features of this school. Thus, one bard may learn Evocation, and thus gain Evocation Savant and Sculpt spells, while another may learn Necromancy, and gain Necromancy Savant and Grim Harvest.

Additional Note: Magical Secrets
At levels 10, 14, and 18, bards may select 2 spells, of a level they can cast, and learn them as Bard spells. In the hands of an Arcana Bard, these spells are recorded in the Bard's spellbook, but cannot be learned by Bard or Wizard, unless they are normally Bard or Wizard spells; otherwise, they are simply too esoteric for those casters to unravel. Wizard spells acquired through Magical Secrets do not need to be from one of the Bard's chosen schools.




College of Arcana
The college of Arcana are different from the other Bards, and broke off from the College of Lore about three score years ago. While the College of Lore focuses on a breadth of knowledge, the College of Arcana focuses exclusively on the study of magic. In that study, they learn the basic secrets of wizardly magic; not the indepth secrets of the wizard schools, but enough that they begin to keep a spellbook and prepare spells like a wizard, in addition to some access to bard magic.

3rd: Wizard Magic

At 3rd level, the College of Arcana bard switches their style of casting to that of a Wizard; they maintain a spellbook and prepare spells each morning. They use Intelligence as their casting attribute, are able to cast any of their prepared spells using any appropriate slots, and so on; all as outlined under "Spellcasting" in the Wizard class description, and the Your Spellbook sidebar, on page 114 of the Player's Handbook (save "Learning Spells of 1st level and higher"; they receive only 1 spell upon gaining a level, not 2). Furthermore, they may now learn all wizard spells as wizard spells. Their initial spellbook contains all of their 1st level Bard spells, as well as a 2nd level spell from either the Wizard or Bard spell list. They may no longer cast spells as Bards; Charisma is no longer their casting attribute, and they must prepare spells, not cast spontaneously. They do retain Bardic ritual casting, but may not longer use musical instruments as arcane foci.

As they learned Bardic Magic first, they do have the bonus that all 5 of the bard spells they learned at 1st and 2nd level are prepared at all times. However, as they advance in levels, they only learn one spell per level (unless they gain access to a spellbook containing other spell), from either the Bard or Wizard lists, and all of these spells must be prepared. They may not learn additional Bard spells except through level gain or by finding them in the spellbook of another bard of the College of Arcana. Wizards are not able to cast these Bard spells (unless they are also Wizard spells).

3rd: Additional Expertise

At 3rd level, College of Arcana bards receive Expertise in Arcana, in addition to the Expertise that all bards gain at 3rd level.

6th: School Secrets

At 6th level, the College of Arcana begins to unravel some of the secrets of Wizardly traditions; they may choose any one power granted to a Wizardly tradition at 2nd level. For example, a bard who favors abjurations may choose either Abjuration Savant or Arcane Ward (p. 115), but not both.

14th level: Further School Secrets

At 14th level, the College of Arcana unravels some further secrets of Wizard traditions. They may again choose any one power granted to a Wizardly tradition at 2nd level; this need not be from the same school as the secret granted at 6th level, but it cannot be the same secret; they cannot choose Abjuration Savant twice to reduce the costs to one quarter, nor Arcane Ward twice to create two wards, or a double-strength ward, when casting Abjurations.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Hackmaster: Loving and Living With your Shitty Familiar

So, You Rolled on Table E

Spellslinger’s Guide, Volume 2, has the rules for acquiring a familiar. Table A is the best table, offering the possibilities of magical and intelligent creatures. Table B might get you cool snakes, predators, elephants, or even humans (which is kinda less cool than you may expect)! Table C is pretty cool. Table D is standard for your “not awesome but still respectable” familiars… cats, birds, lizards, maybe even a goat or a giant squid. A couple bugs, but, ya know, kinda cool ones, like scorpions or spiders.

Table E is not that.

There’s crabs and snails. A wide variety of bugs, including fleas and termites and silverfish, sort of topping out at bees, wasps, and praying mantids. There’s some cool stuff in the water-bound category, like barracuda, pike, and swordfish… even piranhas and manta rays, which can be awesome if you live on or near the water. But, there’s also rocks. And plants. And these… kind of suck, especially if you’re an adventurer. You can’t exactly cart around a tree, and your careful devotion to your small pot of moss is gonna get weird.

There’s two reasons you wind up rolling on Table E: You don’t want to (or can’t) spend a lot of Familiar Points (FP) on getting a familiar, or your dice hate you. Table D requires almost three times the Familiar Points AND some Animal Empathy (only novice, but still some), which is going to cut into your Cool Things budget. Table C will cut into your budget even further at just shy of four times the cost of Table E, and requires a lot more skill (including advanced Arcane Lore mastery, which is its own cost). Table B and Table A are WAY more, and require a lot more skill. So, Table E might be where your comfort zone is for cost.

Your dice might also hate you. Every table above E has the possibility that you’ll get knocked down a table, and, if your dice are bad enough, you could wind up paying for a Table A familiar and still roll on Table E. At this point, bribes to your GM are recommended (though you also have the option to pay an FP or four for a reroll).

But Table E familiars ARE familiars, and they have some potential. But, first, we have to think about what they can do.


The Abilities of Familiars: A Recap

Spider-fam, spider-fam, does whatever a spider can.

A familiar can do whatever another member of its type can do. If it’s a bug, it will have statistics as on page 10 of Spell Slinger’s Guide. It will have a low animal intelligence (2-3), which is about as smart as many predators or herd animals. It won’t die of old age. It will share initiative with the mage, but that goes both ways… the familiar can let the mage know something is up, and can be put “on guard” if the mage is busy with something else, allowing the mage both a better initiative die and their own. With spell points, the mage can share the familiar’s senses, and even communicate with it. And getting a familiar even gives you a bit of bonus Honor. In addition, if you have the spare points, you might try to pick up a special ability or two for your familiar.

The ability to communicate telepathically with a familiar should not be underestimated. There is no range to telepathic communication and, while the creature might not understand words, it will be far more attuned to images and other sensory input, which are a lot easier to manage telepathically, and it will have the ability to communicate back the same way.


Critters and Creatures

Table E has several critters and creatures on it. Many of these are Miniscule or Diminutive, and none really qualify as combatants, except against others of their size… a crab may be able to give a pinch, but it’s not going to do even a point of damage. But the fliers can move faster than a human can walk, and, with a +18 to defense, they’re very difficult to hit. Crawling insects are a lot slower, but they’re also effectively invisible to most people; you seldom notice every cricket and crane fly you come across, so a small insect can be an effective spy. A tick, louse, or flea might live happily on its master for years.

Likewise, many bugs are adept at staying alive. Blessed with great intelligence (for a bug, anyway), they are more aware of things around them, and can better understand what big things are and how they might affect themselves and their masters. The senses of bugs can be far different than those of a human, and may allow them to sense invisible creatures by their displacement of the air, or subtle sounds at frequencies or volumes even elves can’t hear.

Of course, these are still bugs. They are fragile, and may have trouble if their master goes swimming (willingly or not). They’re prey for a lot of animals. A wise master keeps their bugs safe, acquiring or creating a small box for them to retreat to to avoid being squished. The master may wear this around their neck, keep it in their bag, or some other place where their familiar can find their way.


Crabs and mollusks have their own issues and advantages. Crabs, crayfish, and hermit crabs are not water-bound, but they can easily function there, and won’t suffer from a dunking; they should use the fish statistics, or have a swim speed of 10 if they’re miniscule crawlies. All are scavengers, and so will live easily off the detritus common to adventurers. More noticeable than insects, they are also stronger; an ant familiar cannot bring much to you, but a crab can, if the object is small enough.

Notably, the crustaceans are excellent at sensing vibrations; they will have excellent initiative scores and the Improved Awareness talent. They see relatively well in the dark, especially for movement, and have good senses of taste and smell. You may not want to taste what they eat -- nothing like 2 week dead rotted orc to wake you up in the morning! -- but those senses help to give them a great picture of the world around them.

Snails and slugs have more limited senses, and cannot hear at all, but they’re sensitive to shadows, and so notice predators and other threats quite quickly. Likewise, while they are not aquatic, both types can survive a dunking better than an insect, and likely better than their master (depending on the species, it may survive up to 24 hours, or even 2-3 weeks underwater).


The sea creatures of Table E are another kettle of fish (pun completely intended). Water-bound, they cannot travel as well as others, and some are quite sizable… a bluefin tuna might be 15 feet long and three-quarters of a ton, and sturgeons can grow even larger. But you might also wind up with a barnacle, or a coral.

Acquiring a water-dependent familiar can make life difficult for a mage, as it requires them to stay near the water. But, for a wizard at sea, it can be the ideal companion. With the increased intelligence granted by being a familiar, and the guidance of their master, the more mobile creatures can provide insight into the underwater world, even helping to locate sunken ships, lost treasure, or caves. If there are places beneath the water with air, the fish can lead their master or others to them. An aquatic familiar isn’t for everyone; it will limit you to the creature’s own environment far more than a terrestrial familiar will; but they can have great advantages if you can or do live on the water.


Let My Armies be the Rocks and the Trees

And now, we get to rocks and trees.

Rocks are difficult familiars to love. With certain special abilities, they can be formidable and useful familiars, and they’re also immune to a number of the flaws common to familiars… it doesn't matter if your rock is clumsy, or a coward, or lazy. Rocks really can’t have foul habits, bad eyesight, or bad hearing. Additionally, they cannot drown, and have a significant DR, so are difficult to kill accidentally. You can slip them in your pocket and carry them along, or even hold them in your hand for a bit of extra weight when you punch someone.

Their senses, though, are limited to vibrations, and perhaps warmth and cold. That vibration sense can come in handy; it can help locate threats approaching if placed on a surface, and may provide early warning of earthquakes, tsunamis, or flash floods. Your rock does not need to sleep, and so will keep a tireless… watch… for unusual vibrations that might harm its master. Their limited telepathic communication with their master allows the master to wake with far greater speed than they otherwise might, since their familiar is ever alert.

But, let’s be honest. They’re rocks. They can’t move on their own. They cannot see, smell, taste, or even really hear or touch. They cannot talk. While some special abilities can make them amazing, others are simply useless (“Oh, look… my rock can Dodge.”) More on rocks in “Special Abilities for Special Familiars.”


Plants, including, for these purposes, mushrooms and toadstools, are, at best, sessile, but have the potential to be absolutely huge. Weeds, flowers, and moss are relatively small, and might be relatively easily carried; a mage with such a familiar might keep them in a pot. Bushes and vines can also conceivably be treated as such, as well as some trees, mushrooms, and toadstools. But the potential of all of these becomes clear when they are in one place.

Plants are incredibly resilient; many can survive if much above ground is cut, or even burnt, off. Without removing the roots, which can be substantial, the plant will continue to grow, especially with a dedicated caretaker. Vines can remain the same plant across their length; cut one in two and you do not kill it, simply create a second plant. Trees can link themselves with another plant and survive horrible damage as a cutting. And you cannot kill a mushroom in a way that matters; more than just the cap and stem, a mushroom is a vast, underground, organism that can spread across miles and put fruiting bodies up wherever it needs.


These traits do not make these fantastic familiars; they make them “Not as horrible as you first feared” familiars, bordering on good in some circumstances. A non-adventuring mage might like having their familiar be a stone or tree; a mushroom that spans acres, or a wild patch of kudzu. A pirate-mage might enjoy being bonded to a barracuda, or gain prestige from being master to a marlin. But the adventurer might find less to enjoy about their friend the flea, or the supreme honor of being chosen by a semi-intelligent dandelion. But this is where special abilities come in.


Special Abilities for Special Familiars

Special Abilities particularly help Table E familiars. Obviously, they’re of great help to any familiar, but some of the unique nature of Table E familiars can make certain familiars pair very well with certain abilities. Others aren’t especially good for a given familiar, or are simply irrelevant. Especially notable for Table E familiars are:

Disease Resistant: The specifics of this ability make it amazing for those with mineral or vegetable familiars… while diseases can pass from humans to mammals or birds, it is far harder for humans to get diseases of plants, fungi, and rocks… you never hear of Mr. Peabody, who tragically died of Dutch Elm disease. In effect, this renders the mage (and their familiar) immune to disease.

Heartiness: While somewhat mediocre on rocks and trees, this talent is incredibly useful for more fragile familiars; adding 3-6 HP to your silverfish familiar, or a flower, can triple their hit points or more. They’re still not tough, but they’re far less fragile.

Ley Line Sense: In addition to the usual effects of Espy Ley Line, a Game Master might consider a bonus for those linked to stone or plants in locating Earth and Ore Ley Lines, similar to that granted to sylvan and fey types.

Life Bound to Master: With the tree-bound, mushroom-bound, or stone-bound, this particular ability, to pool hit points with a stone, a tree, or a mushroom, can be simply immense. Likewise, as the familiar’s life span is that of the mage, the mage’s life-span is that of the familiar. Trees might be hundreds of years old; fungal colonies thousands. While prudence will limit the mage to remaining near their familiar, “near” can spread across a large area. For kudzu, the mage may see their hit points increase exponentially in the first few days, with vines able to grow a foot a day, with deep, resilient, roots.

Stones have many of the same advantages, though perhaps smaller in scale. A rock will have many effective HP, though not as many as an acres-wide spread of fungus or an ancient oak.

Mage Bound to Master: Similar to Life Bound with Master, this can greatly extend the abilities of a mage; with large plants, their reach can be great indeed.

Shapechanger: The limitation that shapechanges must be of table E or lower is a significant one; your crab familiar cannot become a giant crab or seal herder, your silverfish cannot become a giant spider. However, plant and mineral familiars can make amazing use of this.

At 5 point shapechanging, a mineral familiar might become any tool it chooses; it remains a rock, but is now shaped like a knife or a hand axe. A tree may shape a branch into a useful tool, which it then sheds for its master to use; what better staff to enchant than one given to you by your own familiar? The ability to change size can also make a plant familiar more portable; a massive tree might be restricted to a smaller, or immature, version of the same.

As the power grows in potency, these abilities become even more pronounced; a tree may become a flower, or moss, or some other kind of vegetable matter to better suit the environment; your oak in the Rokk woods may become a cactus in the Khydoban, or a rosebush in Tharggy.

Other special abilities are of more or less use on a table E familiar; Ability Enhancement and Hit Point Bonus are nice no matter what your familiar is, and your tree being a deceptive defender is not, perhaps, terribly relevant.