Familiars have been granted to Humans since gods began to rely on them for power. They were generally only given to the most loyal worshipers, the precursors to Acolytes. During this time, however, becoming an Acolyte was much easier than it is now. The Familiar Ritual itself has changed very little, but the work required from the mage has evolved over the centuries. Familiars are spiritually connected to their mage, allowing them to communicate on an unspoken level. This bond exists even across great distances, allowing mages and their familiars to share thoughts and senses. This bond is invaluable to both the familiar and their mage, and severing this bond through death deeply affects the remaining party. Mages whose familiar was killed often have psychological issues of varying types, or residual pain. Familiars whose mages were killed have entered a feral, uncontrollable rage or have gone into an almost catatonic state. Barring injury and illness, familiars will take on the lifespan of their mage and will live past their natural life expectancy until their mage dies.
A mage’s familiar is chosen by the mage’s god, and most often bestowed upon Acolyte. Each Acolyte is given a familiar as part of their service, but other loyal worshipers can also be given familiars at their god’s discretion. Among the many species native to Lathai, there are several species that commonly serve as familiars. These are commonly chosen for defense, communication, and/or travel. The most common familiars can be found in the sidebar. When the god is confident in what they want for their worshiper's familiar, they will speak to a high priest and communicate what they want for their worshiper and where to find the specific familiar they had in mind. The high priest will then arrange for a courier to pick up the animal and bring them to the temple. This can be a dangerous proposition, as before the ritual takes place, the animal is the same as any other member of its species. Because of this, familiars are often animals of a manageable size and strength. The specifics of the familiar are kept from the worshiper until the ceremony. On the day the worshiper meets their familiar, the familiar is brought to the inner sanctum if the worshiper is an Acolyte or to the courtyard for other worshipers. The god joins their spirits together, and from that point forward they are mage and familiar. Interestingly enough, some worshipers report not getting along with their familiar right away. As with any relationship, it does not come naturally and requires effort on the part of both involved. However, it is very rare for a familiar and their mage to have a sour relationship as time goes on. There is some misconception that familiars understand human speech or are as intelligent as a human. In reality, while familiars are generally somewhat smarter than the average member of their species, familiars are simply given context to events by their mage and they act according to their mage's opinions.