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Armor for a Hawk Familiar


Rules Questions


Is it possible? I remember a druid's animal companion (leopard) had leaf armor, but I've never heard of a wizard's familiar having armor. I could add a shield spell to it, but would rather add something like a +2 armor to the creature instead.

Qadira

The biggest problem with this idea is that armor means weight and restriction. Not something you'd want for a bird, especially considering its strength. Best bet would be to take bracers of armor and have them crafted to size for the hawk, so they'd be bands fitted around its legs. Not only would they provide an armor bonus with no encumbrance, they'd be effective against incorporeal attacks as well.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Since your hawk is unlikely to have or get armor proficiency, stick to armor with no ACP. If you want it to retain the ability to fly, you'll need to stick to light armor anyway (assuming such armor works like barding for flying mounts). Weight will also be a factor, as flight is limited by load carried.

An animal companion hawk is "small" but a familiar hawk is "tiny". The problem tiny creatures have is that, according to table 6-8 (Armor for Unusual Creatures), the armor bonus is divided by 2.

I suggest getting a ring of protection refashioned into a leg-band.


My first thought is a bird with armor is a bird who can't fly. That being said, I think that a ring would work better. A simple ring of protection might work or a ring with continuous mage armor could be cool.


A light load for a Hawk is 10 lbs.

Armor for a Tiny non humanoid creature costs the same as normal armor and weighs 1/10th the weight.

So yes, you could put your hawk in light no armor check armor and expect it to continue flying around.

A mithril chain shirt for a Hawk would weigh 1.25 lbs and not hinder its movements.


My falconer/wizard has elven chain on his hawk companion and hawk familiar.

The combat trick (costs 3 tricks) gives armor proficiencies.

I also have the eye for talent human altered racial trait which I gave +2 str bonuses to the beasts.

My hawks can fly around in the elven chain just fine.....

Cheliax

Keep in mind that tiny-sized armour gives only half the armour bonus. So leather would give +1 AC and a chain shirt +2.


This is true, but it is still intimidating to see a hawk's talon coming at your eyes adorned in shiny silvery armor!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If this were my game, I wouldn't allow armor/barding for a hawk familiar or animal companion, regardless of RAW. The bird would just flat-out refuse to be dressed up like that.

I would allow the bird to wear an amulet of natural armor (around its neck) and/or a ring of protection (on one of its talons). I'd also allow a wizard to custom-make size tiny wingbands of armor, (i.e. bracers) that only fit size tiny winged creatures (raven, hawk, owl, bat, etc), as the creation cost of normal bracers of armor.


Someone has been watching to much Gardians of Ga'Hoole (spelling?).


Not even for ancient elves who have trained with their hawks since birth, training its wings to bear heavier weights?

Cheliax

Haladir wrote:

If this were my game, I wouldn't allow armor/barding for a hawk familiar or animal companion, regardless of RAW. The bird would just flat-out refuse to be dressed up like that.

I would allow the bird to wear an amulet of natural armor (around its neck) and/or a ring of protection (on one of its talons). I'd also allow a wizard to custom-make size tiny wingbands of armor, (i.e. bracers) that only fit size tiny winged creatures (raven, hawk, owl, bat, etc), as the creation cost of normal bracers of armor.

Why is that exactly?


Why not purchase a pearl of power 1 and when you cast mage armor on yourself use the pearl to regain the spell and also cast it on your hawk.

Would save you a lot of time. You could even do it without the pearl and just use two spell slots. Plus that's free.

Cheliax

There's actually a benefit to doing both, especially because tiny leather armour costs only 20gp, and it is a good back-up when you're caught without casting mage armour.

It's the same reason most wizards should consider wearing a haramaki.


Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:

Why not purchase a pearl of power 1 and when you cast mage armor on yourself use the pearl to regain the spell and also cast it on your hawk.

Would save you a lot of time. You could even do it without the pearl and just use two spell slots. Plus that's free.

Familiars have share spells, when you cast it on yourself it also affects your familiar when its in the same square as you when you cast the spell.


Mergy wrote:

There's actually a benefit to doing both, especially because tiny leather armour costs only 20gp, and it is a good back-up when you're caught without casting mage armour.

It's the same reason most wizards should consider wearing a haramaki.

the reason a Haramaki should be considered is all of the useful enchantments that can be put on a haramaki. The armor bonus is never enough but resistance to crits and precision damage as well as elemental resistance in a slot you normally never get to exploit is gold.

Cheliax

rat_ bastard wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:

Why not purchase a pearl of power 1 and when you cast mage armor on yourself use the pearl to regain the spell and also cast it on your hawk.

Would save you a lot of time. You could even do it without the pearl and just use two spell slots. Plus that's free.

Familiars have share spells, when you cast it on yourself it also affects your familiar when its in the same square as you when you cast the spell.

That's not how share spells works in Pathfinder.


Mergy wrote:
rat_ bastard wrote:
Tiny Coffee Golem wrote:

Why not purchase a pearl of power 1 and when you cast mage armor on yourself use the pearl to regain the spell and also cast it on your hawk.

Would save you a lot of time. You could even do it without the pearl and just use two spell slots. Plus that's free.

Familiars have share spells, when you cast it on yourself it also affects your familiar when its in the same square as you when you cast the spell.
That's not how share spells works in Pathfinder.

oh, you are correct, I did not notice that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules Subscriber

Even beyond weight, to offer real protection I'd imagine armor to have to cover the bird's wings. I'd allow it if you cast fly on your eagle whenever you want it airborne. Otherwise I think it's best to stick to mage armor. If you want the look more than the mechanics, there are illusion spells you could reasonably cast.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Carrion wrote:
Not even for ancient elves who have trained with their hawks since birth, training its wings to bear heavier weights?

Problem is the hawks die of old age before the training takes. :)


LazarX wrote:
Carrion wrote:
Not even for ancient elves who have trained with their hawks since birth, training its wings to bear heavier weights?
Problem is the hawks die of old age before the training takes. :)

hawks can live 40 years in the wild, they have time.


As far as I can see, there is no reason in RAW not to allow hawks to wear armor. It just has to be custom made. As a GM I would probably consider making hawk armor to be a very difficult task with a very high DC for an armorer, but certainly doable. The end result would be that it would probably cost four or five times as much as normal barding.

Still, I would probably prefer a ring or custom bracers as an option. Then you don't have the verisimilitude problem of realizing that if you put armor on the wings, they probably won't work to fly. And if you don't armor the wings, the biggest part of the hawk has no armor.

But, as I said, no RAW reason to disallow it.

Lantern Lodge

Mage Armor. Everything else seems kind of ridiculous for a small or tiny flying creature.

Cheliax

Anguish wrote:
Even beyond weight, to offer real protection I'd imagine armor to have to cover the bird's wings. I'd allow it if you cast fly on your eagle whenever you want it airborne. Otherwise I think it's best to stick to mage armor. If you want the look more than the mechanics, there are illusion spells you could reasonably cast.

Because a breastplate or chain shirt only works if it covers your arms, right?


Mergy wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Even beyond weight, to offer real protection I'd imagine armor to have to cover the bird's wings. I'd allow it if you cast fly on your eagle whenever you want it airborne. Otherwise I think it's best to stick to mage armor. If you want the look more than the mechanics, there are illusion spells you could reasonably cast.
Because a breastplate or chain shirt only works if it covers your arms, right?

Yeah this is the "RAW vs Reality" thing I was mentioning. RAW it works.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Mergy wrote:
Haladir wrote:
If this were my game, I wouldn't allow armor/barding for a hawk familiar or animal companion, regardless of RAW. The bird would just flat-out refuse to be dressed up like that.
Why is that exactly?

Real-world knowledge, and desire for at least some level of verisimilitude in my game.

I've always loved birds, and am an avid birdwatcher. When I was in college, I took an elective course on ornithology for nonmajors. Part of the course was a unit on avian anatomy and physiology, including the then-current understanding of the biomechanics of avian flight.

Long story short, if you try to dress a bird in armor, that bird would not be able to fly.

This gets a bit technical:
Birds are extremely lightweight creatures. (Have you ever noticed the difference in density between chicken bones and beef bones?) A real-world full-grown red-tailed hawk only weighs about two to three pounds, despite having a nearly five-foot wingspan.

When they're rearing young, hawks will take very small prey back to the nest to feed to their chicks, but those will be prey of the size of field mice, voles, and sparrows, which weigh a few ounces. The biggest prey they go after are gray squirrels, which can weigh up to a pound, but they never fly off with anything that big: they'll eat those on the ground.

The PFRPG RAW state that size Tiny leather armor would weigh 1 lb, and size Tiny mithril chain would weigh 2 lbs. I've worked with leather before, and I think that's a very low estimate for both, especially for how thick historical leather armor was to offer any level of protection (generally, it was made of layers of thick leather that was boiled in oil to become rigid, then sewn together to make a leather breastplate that was half-an-inch to one inch thick). Scaled for a bird, that would have to weigh at least two-to-three pounds.

Next, there's the consideration of what's actually covered by the armor. For a bird like a hawk, the largest part of its surface area when attacking will be its wings. Aerodynamically, you can't put any covering on the wings at all, as that will change the flight contours of the wing, and would completely prevent flight. And then there's weight distribution. Real-world chainmail has terrible weight distribution: all of the weight is on the shoulders. On a bird, that would significantly hamper its flight ability. For that matter, it's debatable whether a bird could wear a mail hauberk at all: the first wing downstroke would probably cause the armor to simply slip off-- assuming the links didn't get tangled up in its feathers.

In other words, I would not allow birds to wear armor in any game I GM.

At my table, magical defenses would work just fine: mage armor, shield of faith, shield, barkskin spells or the magic items I mentioned in my earlier comment.

Your GM may take a different approach, so check with him or her.

-Hal


So this is Snake barding 2.0?


Mechanically it works. Real world mechanics you could probably rig something up that would help using dense plastics which I would equate to mythril functionally. Mage armor would probably be the easiest and most efficient way of working it.

My only question is why is this a problem? Hawk deals minimal damage and therefore should not be a target in combat is going to be flying above in combat and has a pretty decent ac. What dm has the orcs screaming kill the hawk while the party slices and dices them?

And snake barding works it just requires super glue.


Mage armor it and move on :)


Gnomezrule wrote:

Someone has been watching to much Guardians of Ga'Hoole (spelling?).

That works for me :)

Aye, snakes 2.0

Cheliax

Jak the Looney Alchemist wrote:

Mechanically it works. Real world mechanics you could probably rig something up that would help using dense plastics which I would equate to mythril functionally. Mage armor would probably be the easiest and most efficient way of working it.

My only question is why is this a problem? Hawk deals minimal damage and therefore should not be a target in combat is going to be flying above in combat and has a pretty decent ac. What dm has the orcs screaming kill the hawk while the party slices and dices them?

And snake barding works it just requires super glue.

The reason being that familiars can deliver touch spells, but often have to risk an attack of opportunity to do so.


Tiny Mithril Breastplate, accept no substitutes.

A +3 armor bonus, counts as light armor, and you can enchant it.

If you really want to see your DM's eye start twitching, give your familiar a Greater Hat of Disguise.

Cheliax

Tiny mithral breastplate has an AC penalty of -1. So no.


Mergy wrote:
Tiny mithral breastplate has an AC penalty of -1. So no.

Why exactly?

Cheliax

Because mithral includes the masterwork reduction of AC penalty, and is therefore only a -3 reduction. This can be seen from the CRB entry of mithral full plate of speed, which has an AC penalty of -3, three lower than regular full plate.

A regular breastplate has an AC penalty of -4, so a mithral breastplate has an AC penalty of -1.


And an AC penalty matters what to a Hawk?

Cheliax

Well what exactly are you armouring him for? -1 to all attacks and checks is quite a bit for an entire +1 to AC. If I'm armouring my familiar he's delivering touch attacks.

Not to mention it costs an extra 3300gp over a mithral chain shirt.


Because when you're an all powerful wizard, worrying about money is for peons.

If I'm so worried he'll have a -1 to hit and on his fly checks (yeah show me a Dm that actually makes you roll those) I'll pop the extra 5K for a Mithril Breastplate of Comfort, that way he never even has to take it off.

Just because you might not do it, doesn't mean it can't be done.


I don't know if I'd use a non improved familiar to deliver touch spells offensively. Maybe in a rare situation at low levels. I can see the value though. Eh if you've got the extra cash why not.

On the other hand it just occurred to me that bestow curse is a touch attack. Long range stat sniping hmm goodness. Hmmm. On an imp for the invisibility so you don't provoke.


If you're worried about your familiar provoking during a touch attack, just use the Reach Spell feat when you cast it.

Another favorite spell of mine to give too my familiars is Burning Gaze.


Jak the Looney Alchemist wrote:

I don't know if I'd use a non improved familiar to deliver touch spells offensively. Maybe in a rare situation at low levels. I can see the value though. Eh if you've got the extra cash why not.

On the other hand it just occurred to me that bestow curse is a touch attack. Long range stat sniping hmm goodness. Hmmm. On an imp for the invisibility so you don't provoke.

My rogue/wizard (AT in training) has used his monkey to deliver shocking grasp to humorous effect. The monkey knocked the orc out and celebrated on his smoking corpse. he has a high stealth. ;-)


Very nice Tiny Coffee Golem. I should hope that he got his extra fruit serving that evening. Definitely sounds like he earned it.


Jak the Looney Alchemist wrote:
Very nice Tiny Coffee Golem. I should hope that he got his extra fruit serving that evening. Definitely sounds like he earned it.

I'd had the ability for awhile before I used it. The other players never saw it coming. It was hysterical.

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