The Ravenloft Files: Dead of the Night
Some classes call upon the world for a steadfast animal companion, and the world responds. In Ravenloft, it falls to the Dark Powers to heed this call. Their response is the dread companion.
The dread companion is a template that should be added to any familiar, animal companion or paladin’s mount summoned within Ravenloft. A dread companion uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here. The creature’s type changes to magical beast (if it is not one already).
Dread companions share their master’s ethical alignment but their moral alignment is always evil. Do not be mistaken; they are not mindlessly malicious, nor are they dedicated to their master’s destruction. Indeed, they are loyal to their masters – to a fault.
Dread companions share an empathic link with their masters. Through this link, they are privy to all their master’s innermost thoughts and desires. Their masters may understand why some wishes are best left unspoken, but the dread companion lacks a conscience. They cannot grasp why their master’s desires should be repressed, no matter how dark or selfish. If the master desires an object, the companion may try to steal it; if a rival causes its master harm of any kind, the companion may seek revenge. The dread companion of a scrupulous master knows that its master does not want to acknowledge his unspoken desires, and may act in secret. In psychological terms, when a character calls for a familiar, an animal companion or paladin’s mount in Ravenloft, he receives his own id in flesh and blood.
When the master is at low levels, a dread companion has a rather dull mind. As the master grows in power, however, the intellect of his dread companion follows suit. The dread familiar of a neophyte wizard may seem mischievous; at higher levels, that same dread familiar is capable of devious and cunning plots.
When a dread companion is faced with a situation that would call for a Fear, Horror or Madness save, it does so independently of its master. Indeed, some of the most stalwart dread companions are inured to the terrors that send their masters fleeing. Note also that a dread companion to a good or neutral character has different modifiers to these checks, due to its inherently evil alignment. Special cohorts are treated the same way.
Familiars and other companions brought in from other realms (that is, not native to the Ravenloft world) do not become dread companions. They retain their original alignments and other traits.