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The Nature of Familiars

    • 15 posts
    October 24, 2017 12:28 AM EDT

    Hello everyone, I'm sorry if this is a repeated topic, but I'm a newbie and couldn't find any search tool to check if this issue has been discussed already.

    Well, I have a question regarding the nature of familiars. I know that familiars can be banished by the "banish daedra" spell, but are they really daedra though? If not, what are they? Spirits of dead animals that live on Kyne's plane? Were they companions of heros from the past who inhabit Sovngarde? Or spirits that live on Hircine's plane of Oblivion (which would make them daedra)? 

    I'm roleplaying as a Vigilant of Stendarr and I'v been using the Conjure Familiar spell often, but I've been questioning if that is consistent... it just doesn't seem clear what the hell familiars really are though. 

    • 1473 posts
    October 24, 2017 2:56 AM EDT

    Cool topic, Sarah :) The Conjuration school is most associated with the Daedra, but we know from Skyrim that Call of Valour is effected by perks in that skill - that is to say, it's a shout from the same well-spring as the Conjuration school. If we extrapolate that and think of the Warden class from ESO and their summoned bear, we could easily say that bear is a familar in both the traditional spiritual sense and in the context of the gamewold. A Warden might argue that said bear is from a Daedric Realm, instead asserting the creature is from Kyne's or Y'ffre's plane(t). That said, the bear could also be from Hircine's realm if you were playing a more chaotic character.

    There is a book called The Origins of Conjuration that describe atronachs as familiars, so basically anything could be called a familiar if summoned. A scamp, clanfear or the like is definitely daedric, but the actual familiar spell that summons wolves... I'd say that you could make a strong argument they can come from wherever you want them to come from by using Call of Valour and the Warden as examples of non-daedric spirits.

    To make things more complicated, the Aedra and Daedra as we know them don't exist in the philosophy of the Psijic Order - " The Daedra and gods to whom the common people turn are no more than the spirits of superior men and women whose power and passion granted them great influence in the afterworld." Interestingly, there are a couple of Word-Walls commemorating animals in Skyrim:

    (This) stone commemorates (the) horse
    Sarvirra, (the) most courageous animal
    ever to charge (the) snowy battlefield
    and give his life for his master.

    Here died (the) savage She-Wolf
    Ulfeidr, slayer (of) men and beast,
    Savage leader (of the) Crimson pack.

    I would not bat an eyelid to either or both animals wandering Sovngarde if you wanted to imagine the wolves are of Ulfeidr's pack :)


    • 632 posts
    October 24, 2017 3:38 AM EDT

    While as Phil says it could be argued for any of the options, I have to ask a one question: How difficult is to reach and interact with Oblivion and how difficult is to reach and interact with Aetherius?

    • 15 posts
    October 24, 2017 4:27 AM EDT

    OMG, thanks a lot for the reply Phil, that was waaay more detailed than what I was expecting xD


    The Lorc of Flowers said:

    While as Phil says it could be argued for any of the options, I have to ask a one question: How difficult is to reach and interact with Oblivion and how difficult is to reach and interact with Aetherius?


    This is a valid point. And considering the lore description of Hircine's Hunting Grounds is most likely that the familiars are simply some sort of daedra from that plane of Oblivion...


    Well, I guess no more summoning familiars for me then, I don't wanna to piss Stendarr off lol

    • 632 posts
    October 24, 2017 5:22 AM EDT

    I´m just trying to present different point than Phil, we are doing that quite a lot. Like devil´s advocates lol :D

    My own personal theory is precisely what you said. That "familiars" we see in Skyrim, the wolves, are some sort of lesser Daedra summoned from Hunting Grounds. For me, Conjuration will be always tied to Oblivion, as the book The Origins of Conjuration likes to eloquantly describe.

    Imperial mages have arguably advanced the study of conjuration magic far more than most, but it first fell to Elven wizards to crack open the door to Oblivion without its screaming horrors spilling uncontrollably into Mundus


    Conjuration is the arcane art of summoning creatures and items from other planes for the usage and benefit of the conjurer. - Principles of Conjuration

    But... I´m not one to completely dismiss the possibility of something coming from Aetherius or the gods. There is a certain piece of information that me and Phil keep shooting at each other for some time, mulling it over and over. It´s from... Kyne´s Challenge.

    “As the blessings of nature protect me, Kyne grant me fortitude!”

    The burning blackness was instantly dismissed. In my hands I held a spectral bow, bound to my form.

    The guy clearly conjures a bound bow - which we know is actually a lesser daedra forged into a weapon:

    Likewise, lesser entities bound by their Daedra Lords into weapons and armor may be summoned for brief periods, or may persist indefinitely, so long as they are not destroyed and banished. The class of bound weapons and bound armors summoned by Temple followers and conjurors are examples of short-term bindings; Daedric artifacts like Mehrunes Razor and the Mask of Clavicus Vile are examples of long-term bindings. - Darkest Darkness

    But still...could the bow be a bound lesser spirit from Kyne´s realm, invoked by the prayer? Or is the guy just shouting Aedric hypocritic nonsense while he is summoning Daedra? Questions questions questions!

    Anyway, next time you have a quest like this you can post it in the Lore Group, start a discussion about it. :)

    • 15 posts
    October 24, 2017 6:36 AM EDT

    You can especulate the bound bow mentioned in Kyne's Challenge is not the same as the Daderic bound bow from the Conjuration spell. I mean, it could be a spiritual weapon or something that Kyne gave to that hunter. Kyne does have the power to summon/send spectral beasts to Nirn (beast Guardians are an example), so it's not far-fetched to assume Kyne could've also sent a spiritual weapon to a champion in a time of need. 

    But Conjuration spells are most likely a summon of daedric artifacts and creatures. It's hard to believe mortals would have the power to summon a bound Aedric spirit...

    Oh, and thanks for the tip about posting in the right secction in the future. xD

    • 1473 posts
    October 24, 2017 6:53 PM EDT

    It is a lot like devil's advocate, yeah :D I think there is value in interpretation and, depending on what sources we choose to use, can give us more scope for interpretation; especially when it comes to the spirit world. We may fall into the trap of categorising spirits into ether Aedric or Daedric in nature, but we know that to do that is to do ourselves a disservice.

    A wide variety of spirits roam the lonely paths of Skyrim. Some are fierce and terrible, hateful and jealous of mortal creatures. Others are simply mischievous, full of playful wickedness that can turn dangerous if the target isn't completely aware of what's happening. A few can be benevolent, but even these can turn hostile if the proper decorum and respect aren't adhered to. These spirits range from free-roaming Daedra to the mortal dead to nature personified, though such distinctions may not matter much if you become embroiled in a haunted encounter. What do you care if the spirit harassing you is a marauding Daedra or the lingering shade of a village peasant? It's still just as insubstantial. It's still just as dangerous. ~ Spirits of Skyrim

    Those "nature personified" spirits could range from the Ehlnofey and Spriggan to the Ice Wraith and red peeper-induced hallucinations of tigers. Each can be interacted with, but some require a medium through which to interact and communicate. If we remember back to the Skyrim Design Document and the sentence, " Nord heroes and clever men visit the Underworld all the time. They bear a symbol to show that they have, which garners much respect" we could maybe say that the medium through which one interacts with the underworld or spirit world is through the spells or rituals we classify as conjuration.

    So that gives us a bit more scope in terms of classifiying spirits. We may use a conjuration spell, but to immediately think we're summoning an Aedric or Daedric spirit could be hugely misleading. The Warden could be drawing from the spirits of the natural world - nature personified or just spirits of animals which don't have an afterlife. And what of the Skaal? To tell a Skaal shaman he is, in fact, calling upon a daedric spirit when he works his mojo would get you frowned at. There is more to it than simply Aedric and Daedric, especially to cultures such as the Skaal or Psijics to whom such concepts are utterly alien.

    • 15 posts
    October 24, 2017 7:33 PM EDT

    Paws said:

    And what of the Skaal? To tell a Skaal shaman he is, in fact, calling upon a daedric spirit when he works his mojo would get you frowned at. There is more to it than simply Aedric and Daedric, especially to cultures such as the Skaal or Psijics to whom such concepts are utterly alien.

    Now that is a really strong argument.... and in my case I’m quick to assume wolves or bear familiars are daedra simply because pretty much every other conjured familiar is a daedra, but if you consider that the conjuration school also mastered the power to summon undead, you realise that it’s not that simple. One could simply say that “undead familiars are conjured from the Soul Cairn, so it’s the same”, but is it? I mean, technically Skeletons, Bonemen, etc., are not daedra, but simply undead trapped in a plane of Oblivion, it’s a big difference.

    I think it's safe to say the lore simply does not give enough information to determine whether animal familiars are daedra, aedra or simply natural spirits (and they could be animal spirits trapped in the Soul Cairn, btw). This is definitely a field that requires more studying before one can draw conclusions. Maybe for future games it could be a subject explored in a Mage Guild quest or something. If I only I worked in Bethesda’s writing team… lol

    This post was edited by Sarah Lannister at October 24, 2017 7:34 PM EDT
    • 632 posts
    October 25, 2017 3:12 AM EDT

    The thing is that to us the answer isn´t definite but to the mere mortals down there in the world of TES the answer could very well be definite. Or the answers...

    So to expand on Phil´s shamans and such. Yes, absolutely, because it all comes down to the point of view, to the perspective. We know that Schools of Magic as we know them are nothing but an artificial construct so that it the magic could be easily studied and taught. So take your regular mage, priest, nightblade or any of these who are in contact with civilization and you have a person who will be taught that Conjuration is about summoning Daedra and so the "familiar" has to be a daedra. Then take your Skaal shaman, or Orc wise-woman and they will tell you it´s a some kind of nature spirit. So while they can cast the same spell, they can have completely different reasonings and procedures. You follow? Matter of perspective.

    And even though the schools and the spells could be the same, the cultural influences on the spells could still play a big role. Ask an Altmer mage about the "familiar" and he´ll tell you it´s Daedroth from Hunting Grounds. Ask a Bosmer mage and he´ll tell you it´s a nature spirit. Ask a Telvanni and he´ll tell you "who gives a fuck?"

    Matter of perspective. Cultural, racial, class and so on and on.

    This post was edited by Karver the Lorc at October 25, 2017 3:17 AM EDT
    • 15 posts
    October 25, 2017 6:21 AM EDT

    But only one of them (or none of them) is right. I mean, they all have different perspectives because they simply don't know. There's no perspective in good science xD

    I reckon the first step for a research in that matter would be to find a way to capture the ectoplasm of a ghostly summoned familiar and compare it's chemical composition to the remains from other summoned creatures such as bone meal from undead, salts from daedra and ectoplasm from ghosts inhabiting the mortal plane, and then try to find an unique common element. And honestly, if us mere mortals are here wondering about this, I'm pretty sure there are some big nosed Imperial scholars from the College of Whispers out there pulling their hair out trying to figure that one lol

    • 85 posts
    October 28, 2017 10:32 AM EDT
    I always thought Conjuration was a matter of opening a door to somewhere else and either bringing something back or sending something through. The “where” is a matter of choice, but traditionally the most powerful, useful, and easy to summon assistants would be the Daedra, those “Not Our Ancestors” whose power was not diminished by the creation of Nirn.