Familiars are common in 3x3 Eyes, both in the Holy Land and on Earth. Humans and Sanjiyan alike have learned the advantages of having a faithful and friendly creature always at their side, both for companionship and to aid in all sorts of activities. Cats, and other pets, are common familiars to normal mages, but one can always count on the beast mages and the Sanjiyan Unkara to adopt strange and bizarre creatures as familiars.
A familiar might be an animal, beast, or minor demon adopted by the mage, or a higher spirit that has adopted an animal body. Familiar abilities varies widely and they can be anything from simple trained animals to highly intelligent beings sharing mind links with their "owners."
In 3x3 Eyes, a magician can have more than one familiar, and the nature of the binding between them and the mage doesn't need to be the same. Also, one familiar does not have to acknowledge or like the others. Jealousy might be quite a problem for a magician whose familiars are two minor demons!
Being a race of highly powerful and highly skilled mages, the Sanjiyan Unkara are quite used to familiars. They usually make good companions for children, and the more intelligent ones can be trusted to act as baby-sitters or bodyguards of the young.
Due to the highly magical atmosphere of the Holy Lands and the strange nature of its natural animal life, Sanjiyan tend to choose as familiars animals who wouldn't pass as a regular pet on Earth. Powerful, yet friendly creatures like Takuhi (one-legged, harpy-like birds capable of changing their body size) are a favorite, but unique magical creatures such as Fei-Oh are also used.
The Sanjiyan use advanced magic to deal with familiars. The most useful being permanent spells cast upon the familiar to give it special healing and protection abilities. Examples of such spells are Pai's familiar Takuhi's ability to inhabit her walking staff, and her Fei-Oh's fading to an alternate plane when it needs to heal.
Availability of such permanent spells for non-Sanjiyan mages is up to the GM. Also, since a familiar is bought as a Follower, any increase in the familiar's power will mean an increase of its point cost to the character.
Telepathic links between the mage and his familiars are common practice. The Sanjiyan Unkara were particularly fond of using telepathy spells, and creation of a telepathic link between children and familiars was almost always done as an added security measure. This is easily simulated by buying a Mind Link between the familiar and the familiar's master. The Psychic Bond Adder for Mind Link is an excellent option for this power.
Familiars are NPCs and as such they are under the GM's control. Also, the usage of familiars in combat is quite risky. Only absolutely faithful familiars will accept to be subject to constant threat to their lives, and even those might object to put their lives on the line for any reason other than saving their master's life. Familiars like Fei-Oh, which can access increased healing abilities while gone, might leave at crucial times, if in dire need of healing.
If a PC loses his familiar, either to death or if it chooses to leave due to abuse, it's up to the GM whether the character should lose the points he had spent on the familiar, or find/create another one. As a rule of thumb, PCs who abused their familiars should not be allowed to create a new one as a replacement. They would need to spend unused points and acquire a new one. The same is true if the PC often lets his familiar face unneeded danger. On the other hand, if a familiar decides on itself to die to save its master's life, the GM should provide a new familiar (with the same point cost) for that character. Finding or creating this new familiar is a good short adventure in itself.
The rituals and related processes through which a mage can adopt a familiar varies widely with the familiar and campaign type, as well as the GM's (and most of the time, the Player's) ideas on how such a thing could be accomplished. It is recommended not to allow any type of familiar other than a normal, unenhanced pet to characters with low-level magical powers. Only the most powerful of magic using characters should have he ability to make unusual creatures into familiars.
If a familiar is only an animal, then adopting one should be as simple as finding a pet and befriending it (perhaps with the help of some spells designed to control animals). Befriending the normal animal and then enhancing it could create slightly "enhanced" animals and beasts.
Adopting very powerful or complex familiars like Takuhi and Fei-Oh should be a somewhat more complicated process. The GM should not allow players without the actual ability to perform the needed spells to enhance or create such familiars.
Unique magical creatures like Fei-Oh should be designed by the GM (as with any Follower purchased by a PC) based in some basic ideas set by the mage creating the familiar. Creating such a familiar requires the mage to summon a spirit for the creature, thus requiring at least one spell for spirit summoning. Assume the mage is using variations of existing spells if necessary. The body shape will be a choice of the spirit being summoned (i.e. whatever body the GM designed for it), but it should be unique. Other spells might also be necessary.
The GM should then decide how the familiar will react to its "master." This reaction can be based upon many factors, such as the familiar's INT score, the magician's PRE score, and the Side Effects of any spells the magician may have used in the creation process. This decision can be a simple as a die roll, or based on the GM's desires. This decision must be done in secret and the GM should shape the familiar's reaction to its master and the other characters by it. Remember that most animals have certain "personality traits" which should not be ignored, even if said animal is a familiar.
The word "animal" was used loosely in the context of familiars. The GM should keep in mind that it is possible to summon a very intelligent spirit to be a familiar, and such spirits would not be affected by spells designed to affect animals. This could result in comical or dangerous situations if the mage is not aware of the nature of the spirit being summoned (which is often the case).
As a final note, GM should check the HERO System Bestiary, pages page 25, for the Familiar Package. Also, The HERO System Asian Bestiary, Volumes I & II, contain a host of creatures GMs could use to create familiars appropriate for a 3x3 Eyes setting.
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