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An Unfamiliar Familiar by MelissaFindley An Unfamiliar Familiar by MelissaFindley
This week’s Art Order challenge [link] was to come up with an unfamiliar familiar. If you’re a D&D player you’ll know that most familiars are rats, snakes, cats, ravens, bats, weasels… with the occasional imp, or dire badger thrown in. Familiars must be, according to D&D rules, a common animal that the sorcerer or wizard bonds with (though there are allowances made in special situations for magical creatures to become familiars). Research done, I started wondering what sort of familiar I would want.

As always, inspiration is often right under our noses.

In my backyard I have a birdfeeder that, until recently, was suspended from our drake elm by a tv cable. (We’re geeks here, such things were handy). Below it was a plastic pedestal bird bath. We have several dozen birds that live in the many, many trees around our house, as well as several daredevil squirrels. Recently we discovered that there was also a couple of raccoons.

One morning I woke up to discover that the birdfeeder had somehow fallen in the middle of the night, spilling seed, nuts and dried fruit everywhere. Well, there should have been dried fruit and nuts, but most of it was gone and only the seed was left. I refilled it and rehung it. Two days later, same thing. Feeder on ground, nuts and fruits gone, still plenty of seed left. Hmmmm. Again, I refilled it and rehung it. The next morning there was some evidence that something had been hauling on the cables trying to pull up the feeder. Weird. So I fixed it again. Two days later, however, I woke up to find not only the feeder on the ground but something had snapped the bird bath pedestal, which was pretty flimsy, true, but shouldn’t have broken like that.

I brought the feeder into the house, left out some fruit and nuts, and then sat up late to wait. Around midnight our little thief showed himself.

Raccoons are surprisingly noisy. He slipped through the yard, then down to the patio. He sat up and looked for the feeder, but I’d brought it in. Disappointed, he set to work on the fruit and nuts and the bugs and earthworm under the dead leaves.

The next morning I did some research on raccoons. They climb well, high up in trees. Their eyesight is pretty poor, but their hearing and sense of smell is phenomenal. They can remember the solutions to puzzles up to three years later and have some minimal counting ability. We’ve upped our cable suspension on the bird feeder to a chain with a closed hook system. Near as we can tell, he was using the bird bath to jump up onto the feeder and swing on it till it fell.

Why aren’t raccoons an option for a familiar already? Certainly they’re at least as clever as a cat or weasel, if not more so, and they can be as big and vicious as a badger. So Slippy here is my submission for the Unfamiliar Familiar challenge. He gives his sorcerer bonuses to listen checks, intelligence, and in addition he can pick simple locks and solve simple puzzles. There is the problem, however, of him sometimes getting into packs looking for food…

Wonder if WotC might consider giving him a bonus “Rabid” attack at higher levels?
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Ayusme Featured By Owner Sep 19, 2015
This is amazing and I love the idea of it becoming a familiar!
Whifflerat Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2013
"We may look pretty primitive to a guy with a bag!"
jangamon Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2013
I would love to have a raccoon as a D&D familiar! :happybounce:  I'm glad you though of it. 
rai-kami Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2012
Great drawing, great story to go along with it; and I agree, I wouldn't mind having a ranger/scout with a raccoon :D
crshh Featured By Owner Mar 4, 2010
The perfect familiar for a Magic-user/thief class. :)
GoblinQueeen Featured By Owner Aug 15, 2009
They are fabulously clever and make great little theives ;) My mom has lots of stories from the ones her and her sister helped raise when they were younger. You really captured the raccoon spirit :)
written-thyme Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2009
Aww, it's adorable! It brings to mind an amazing fanfic I've read multiple times, where the main character's familiar is a raccoon.
I think you'd enjoy it!
Slugawhoo Featured By Owner Jun 30, 2009  Student Traditional Artist
I love the entire story that goes with this. Raccoons are sneaky little buggers. :giggle:

The artwork itself is brilliant, too! n_n

LadyMidnight81 Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2009  Professional Writer
he is just so cute, and raccoons are sure to make a good familiar, I'll have to suggest that to a friend as well...
fantasydreamer59 Featured By Owner May 16, 2009
Wonderful! :heart:
FloralFaerie Featured By Owner May 12, 2009
Great story and drawing! We don't have wild raccoons here in Scotland, but a similar thing happened a few months ago at my birdfeeders. One morning I found the sunflower-shaped peanut holder broken open on the ground and not a peanut in sight...a week or so later I saw a red squirrel (gorgeous!) on the birdtable, who was maybe the culprit :D
WaterLilyKitty Featured By Owner May 11, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
I like the pic, but I really hate raccoons. They are very vicious, like you said. I live out on a farm so we have a lot of raccoons around our place. We raise turkeys and have pet ducks. They are always after our birds. I don’t mind over much because I know they’re just trying to survive. My strong dislike of them started when I was 9. I had a pet guinea pig that lived in an outside cage. Well, the night before my 9th birthday they had tried to eat her. She lived, but was gravely wounded and died in my arms the next day. I could still under stand, even then, they were just trying to live, but that didn’t mean I had to like them.

People say that animals only attack to defend themselves, or to eat. That is untrue. Raccoons will kill for pleasure. Last year they attacked out pet sucks, ripped their throat out, then went on to try and eat out tackiest. There were eight of them and only one get away. I don’t think I can ever forgive them for that senseless attacking. Our ducks did live, but it was a very near thing.

Well, that’s my story about raccoons. I hope you enjoyed(ish). I really do somewhat like your pic though.

whimsi Featured By Owner May 11, 2009
I have always thought of having a raccoon familiar. Whenever I play D&D I always try to make characters that stray from the cliches. I played an old lady mage once whose familiar was a small monkey. It was in a world that the DM made up, we were in a tropical area where there were animals that you can't usually take as familiars in regular ol' high fantasy.

I like the idea of a raccoon though, it would fulfill a lot of the same needs I took the monkey familiar for, since raccoons have little hands that they use quite deftly.

You did a lovely job portraying the curiosity of raccoons.
str4yk1tt3n Featured By Owner May 11, 2009
That's awesome.
And yeah, raccoons are REALLY smart.
Tizrak Featured By Owner May 11, 2009
That's really, really cool! I am just now making up a wizard for a new campaign, and I am tempted to see if I can talk the GM into a raccoon ... :)
Sussi1 Featured By Owner May 11, 2009   Digital Artist
Very cute!
Phenixfeathers Featured By Owner May 11, 2009
Reminds me of the racoon in Pochahontas (the Disney Film) God I've not seen that in years.
CindysArt Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Fantastic!!!!!!!!!!! :love:
PaisleyRose Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Good gravy! it's Rocky Raccoon
SparrowsFlame Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
He's so cute! I've always liked raccoons. I like their masks, especially. Great job on the fur. And I like the cuff he's wearing. I'm wondering what all he has in that bag. :giggle:
aliveruka Featured By Owner May 10, 2009   Photographer
great work :)
jendy-4 Featured By Owner May 10, 2009

Awwwww, the coon would be an awesome familiar! I can picture him being bonded to a wizard thief or some such, what with is little bandit mask.

There are a lot of coons around my house. Sometimes if we go out to the pond at night, we can see them clamoring around the waterfall (it's a decorative pond). So far they have yet to catch any of our koi, which is a relief. But they're still just so darn cute!

I love this!
FreyjaSig Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Stunning image :) :hug:
PhantomRolePlayer Featured By Owner May 10, 2009
That is exactly the familiar I would want! I squealed when I saw it. xD
Ashe-Nyght-Raven Featured By Owner May 10, 2009
When I was very little, my dad had two raccoons he kept in a large cage. I recall the sounds they made and their scent fairly distinctly. They were pretty friendly. That's an amusing story. And well done on the picture.
avisnocturna Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
aw, so cute! :D
Aysuh Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Yes, the raccons would definitely be good familiar. They learn thing pretty easily. I love the details in its tail. :) The drawing ir really well done!:D
Anafiel Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
raccoons are great familliars...when they aren't trying to make a nest out of yer hair...or biting yer ankles lol
Sophia-Christina Featured By Owner May 10, 2009
i have to agree don't know why more people haven't realized the benefits of a coon familir
PatrickMcEvoy Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Professional General Artist
He came out great! We've got several raccoons in our neighborhood,(a family of three, and one loner) so I've gotten to see them up close on several occasions lately. You've captured the personality and the look of them very well, I think.
Lady-Cobweb Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
How awesome! And raccoons can get really mean . . . like I'm gonna kill your dog cause he looked at me funny mean. Haha. I love raccoons and this picture really captures their mischief. Hope you win!
Terrauh Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
They are smart little almost have to love them for their creativity even when they're causing problems. Good job on this :)
Logovanni Featured By Owner May 10, 2009  Professional Artist
Damn coons A gang of them raided my campsite once. I was sleeping outside with a couple other guys. One of them woke up from the raccoon noises and flipped out. I'm like "Dude, calm down." And he goes, "Calm down, I'm about to be manhandled by raccoons, don't tell ME to calm down!"

xD he was a very small guy.

Great job on the pic, Looks really raccoonish. :P
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Submitted on
May 10, 2009
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