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In Xanathar's Guide to Everything on page 59, there is an image of a war mage with some kind of creature on his shoulders. The creature looks vaguely like a Ki-Rin to me, but since Ki-Rins are creature size Huge, I believe we can rule that out.

Either way, can anyone tell me what kind of creature is depicted here? I'm pretty sure it's not a creature that has been released for 5th edition so far, so experience with previous versions is probably required.

war mage with unidentified creature

(click image to enlarge)

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It is indeed a Ki-rin

Jeremy Crawford has stated in a tweet as a response to someone posing this same question:

Casey White @CaseyDaWhite

@mikemearls @JeremyECrawford Not sure who to ask, but what is the familiar sitting on the War Mage's shoulder? (Pg 59 of Xanathar's) I've been pouring over the monsters and can't find anything similar.

Jeremy Crawford @JeremyECrawford

The war wizard in Xanathar's Guide to Everything has a special companion: a baby ki-rin! #DnD

Yes, they are normally huge but this is a baby one hence the smaller size.

As a small bonus, note how Mike Mearls was also unsure what the creature was prompting Jeremy Crawford to once again clarify:

Mike Mearls @mikemearls (Replying to @CaseyDaWhite @JeremyECrawford)

Good question - we don’t know! In the art review, we thought it looked really interesting, so we didn’t ask for a change. I suspect it’ll be a critter added to the game at some point.

Jeremy Crawford @JeremyECrawford

Mike, we worked with the artist to make it a baby ki-rin.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I do have to say though, I really love Crawford's reply to Mearls' tweet. It sounds like an old couple, with the wife chiding her husband for repeatedly not remembering to buy milk. We talked about this, dear! ^^ \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster May 14 at 18:41

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