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Before We Get Started
If you're not familiar with Kingdom of Loathing, we have a good review of the game here: http://www.gameyum.com/other-rpg-games/35197-kingdom-of-loathing-review/
There are a few basic things you need to know about familiars. In order to use one you will need a Familiar-Gro Terrarium, which is available for purchase in town. After you have found, made, or bought a familiar, go to your inventory and use it. This will load it in the terrarium. Once it's in there you can select it and adventure with it. Once a familiar is in the terrarium it's permanent and you will not need to acquire it again, except in a Bad Moon run, where your familiars will be hidden and inaccessible. To change familiars, simply click on your familiar in the character pane to the left, or go to your Campground and click on the terrarium. Each familiar has its own specific equipment, which can be won by training your familiar at the Cake-Shaped Arena, or bought at the mall. Most familiar equips grant a level bonus of +5 to your familiar, with a few exceptions. For easier reading I will put the familiar equipment in quotes after all familiar names. Familiars level up with your character, but your familiars will have a level cap of 20. The higher the familiar's level, the more effective it is. When you ascend their levels are reset.
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One of the most common questions players new to Kingdom of Loathing have is what kind of familiar to use. The four basic familiars listed here are easy to get, and form a good base of skills for new players to utilize. The Blood-Faced Volleyball (palm-frond toupee) is one of the best familiars for new players. It increases the stat gains your character gets from fights, which makes levelling faster. You can make the volleyball by using a seal tooth, giving yourself the Bloody Hand effect, and then using a plain old volleyball. You are not allowed to name it Wilson. Next up is the Baby Gravy Fairy (eye-pod). To make the fairy, cook a knob mushroom with a fairy gravy boat, which is found in the Haiku Dungeon. The gravy fairy increases item drops. The leprechaun (meat detector) is more difficult to find, but it's valuable because it increases meat drops, and newer characters have a hard time finding meat, which is the in-game currency. You have a chance of finding a leprechaun hatchling by eating a bowl of lucky charms, but it's easier to buy the hatchling in the mall. Have an assembled ten-leaf clover in your inventory and adventure at the Spooky Forest to get a bowl of lucky charms. Finally, there's the Hovering Sombrero (tiny maracas). Combine an irate sombrero, which drops from South of the Border, and a poultrygeist, another Border drop. To get a poultrygeist adventure at the Border until you get the Finger-Lickin' ... Death adventure and choose the second option. The Sombrero is similar to the Volleyball in that it increases stat gains, but unlike the Volleyball, which provides a straightforward stat bonus, the Sombrero's benefits increase when you're fighting higher level monsters. At lower levels it is better to keep using the Volleyball. They break even at a monster level of about 85. You should be fighting at or near this level when your character is around level 10 or 11, so that's a good time to switch them out. These four familiars cover most of the basic familiar mechanics.
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The Tower Familiar Guide
When you're ready to take on the Naughty Sorceress, you'll have to get past two of her familiar guards. These vary from ascension to ascension. To beat this stage of the game you will need these five familiars: the Angry Goat (prosthetic forehead), Barrrnacle (sucky decal), Levitating Potato (many-eyed glasses), Mosquito (hypodermic needle), and the Sabre-Toothed Lime (tiny shaker of salt). For the Angry Goat, combine an anticheese with a goat cheese. Get anticheese by adventuring at the Shore and choosing the Distant Lands Dude Ranch option until it drops. Goat cheese is obtained from The Goatlet once Mt. McLargeHuge is open. The Goat is an attack familiar that occasionally deals stench damage. The Barrrnacle is a little easier to get, it's just a drop from The F'c'le, however this area is not available until later in the game. The Barrrnacle is a de-leveller, which means it drops the monster level when it attacks. This is great if you're dealing with a tough enemy, but you shouldn't be adventuring with any of these familiars full time. The Levitati ng Potato is another easy one to get, it just involves a little luck. Adventure in the Daily Dungeon until it drops. This can take a few days as you're limited to 10 adventures per day in the Daily Dungeon. The Potato has the ability to block an enemy's attacks. You should already have the Mosquito from one of your first quests in the woods. Mosquitoes do a small amount of damage and return a little HP. Make the Sabre-Toothed Lime by combining a Lime with sabre teeth, another Goatlet drop. Limes are available cheaply in the mall, or you can buy a casino pass and adventure at the casino's Lemon Party Slot until you get one. The Lime is another fighter, and will do some damage to your enemies.
To defeat the Naughty Sorceress' familiars you will have to find out which familiars have been stationed in the tower. This will cost you 50 HP, so be prepared for that. After you know which familiar it is, level the counter familiar up to 20 and simply go back to the tower to clear the area. Again, there will be two familiars to take out. To defeat the Barrrnacle, level up an Angry Goat. To beat the Goat use a Mosquito. To beat the Lime use a Potato. To beat the Potato use a Barrnacle. And finally, to beat the Mosquito use the Lime.
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Now You're Set!
Most of the best in-game familiars utilize some combination of the mechanics we discussed in this guide - increasing monster level, item drops, and meat. You'll find that no one familiar works best all the time. Try to collect as many as you can! If you enjoy well-crafted free MMORPGs, we have more recommendations here: http://www.alteredgamer.com/best-pc-gaming/72069-top-free-mmo-rpgs-the-five-must-play-f2ps/