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Familiar, Wand Use, Which?


Advice


Looking at building a Wizard with a familiar. Question is, which familiars are available that can use wands?

What are the requirements to use a wand?
I've been assuming some type of 'hands' to hold the wands but during my forum search it seems like there's a lot of people mentioning that this familiar or that can use wands and I just can't see how as those familiars have no 'hands'.

So which familiars have can clearly use wands and how do I back up the reasoning if asked?

Thanks.


I've seen developers say that only Improved Familiars can use wands.

Many people try to claim that only humanoid shaped things (like mephits) can use them.

The actual requirements for a wand are that you hold it in "whatever passes for a hand," that you point it in the general direction of the target, and that you speak a command phrase.

To me, that would mean any Improved Familiar that has something approaching hands (so, for example, not a Voidworm) and the ability to speak (most of them). This to me also means that the Raven and Parrot should be able to use them as well--corvids are the smartest birds on the planet and have been known to use and manipulate tools, so it's not really that hard to imagine.


mplindustries wrote:


To me, that would mean any Improved Familiar that has something approaching hands (so, for example, not a Voidworm) and the ability to speak (most of them). This to me also means that the Raven and Parrot should be able to use them as well--corvids are the smartest birds on the planet and have been known to use and manipulate tools, so it's not really that hard to imagine.

I'd go along with ravens and the like talking and I can see them manipulating tools (like a wand) with their beak quite well.

The question is: Can they do both at once?
Or will the wand in their beak hinder them while saying the command word?

Sovereign Court

There's a monkey familiar.


Monkey's can't talk though

Edit: However, Familiars have to use UMD to use wands, as they get no spell-lists, so does UMD still require them to speak the command word?
If not then I could actually see pretty much any familiar being able to use a wand.


Umbranus wrote:

I'd go along with ravens and the like talking and I can see them manipulating tools (like a wand) with their beak quite well.

The question is: Can they do both at once?
Or will the wand in their beak hinder them while saying the command word?

I don't see why a raven that is currently flying couldn't hold the wand in its feet.

Dark Archive

Quatar wrote:

Monkey's can't talk though

Edit: However, Familiars have to use UMD to use wands, as they get no spell-lists, so does UMD still require them to speak the command word?
If not then I could actually see pretty much any familiar being able to use a wand.

Incorrect, at 5th level ALL familiars gain the ability to talk because of the Speak with Master familiar ability.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

As for ravens and parrots using wands held in the beak this should work. Birds vocalize with an anatomical structure called a syrinx that sits at the bifurcation of their bronchi. They don't really need to move their beaks or tongues too much to make sound. If you ever watch a pet parrot you can catch him talking with his mouth full of food, while using his beak to climb, etc. Parrots are also good at standing on one foot while holding an object with the other. I don't see why they couldn't use wands.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
Quatar wrote:

Monkey's can't talk though

Edit: However, Familiars have to use UMD to use wands, as they get no spell-lists, so does UMD still require them to speak the command word?
If not then I could actually see pretty much any familiar being able to use a wand.

Incorrect, at 5th level ALL familiars gain the ability to talk because of the Speak with Master familiar ability.

It's been argued (I think fairly) that the familiar still can't actually speak when it gets the Speak with Master ability. Here's what it says:

Speak with Master wrote:
Speak with Master (Ex): If the master is 5th level or higher, a familiar and the master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication without magical help.

That last sentence says to me that the familiar speaks using its own squwaks, grunts, and other normal animals noises, and the master can just understand it. This doesn't say that the familiar can actually articulate complex phrases such as those that would be required to use command words.

Dark Archive

cartmanbeck wrote:
Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
Quatar wrote:

Monkey's can't talk though

Edit: However, Familiars have to use UMD to use wands, as they get no spell-lists, so does UMD still require them to speak the command word?
If not then I could actually see pretty much any familiar being able to use a wand.

Incorrect, at 5th level ALL familiars gain the ability to talk because of the Speak with Master familiar ability.

It's been argued (I think fairly) that the familiar still can't actually speak when it gets the Speak with Master ability. Here's what it says:

Speak with Master wrote:
Speak with Master (Ex): If the master is 5th level or higher, a familiar and the master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication without magical help.
That last sentence says to me that the familiar speaks using its own squwaks, grunts, and other normal animals noises, and the master can just understand it. This doesn't say that the familiar can actually articulate complex phrases such as those that would be required to use command words.

It has been argued that way but the 2 lines in the description that states "using a common language" & "can communicate verbally" pretty much kills that idea. A common language lets them discuss anything their intelligence score can handle and a command word is exactly that, a single word that activates the magic item.

Worst case imaginable with the worst GM in the game you just have the command word on that wand/item be in that shared language the wizard/familiar use and keep going.

Edit: Oh and your argument kinda of falls apart when you realize the wizard has to do that to. Remember n oone understands what the wizard is saying to the familiar either so he's obviously not speaking common (or elvish, dwarven, etc).
So if the wizard isn't using his native language to speak to the familiar why should the Familiar be using it's normal communication abilities to speak to the wizard?


"AS IF using a common language" is different than "using a common language".

It means, they are not in fact using a common language, but they simply magically understand each other as if they were.


It does mean the Familiar can at that level receive a Tongues spell, which would allow it to speak a command word.


couldn't the raven in the first example use its feet and just fly while casting? They typically use them as well for tool use anyway.


Part of the intent of Improved Familiar seems to be the availability of familiars which are capable of UMD'ing items, this seems perfectly clear and no one seems to argue it.

All the "normal" Familiars being animals seems to enforce one of the major purposes of the feat.

I think the question isn't about whether, in a "reality simulator" type game, your Raven or Parrot could grasp a stick and squawk a "command word", the question is about gameplay and game design.

Does it make the game work more clearly, more smoothly to rules-lawyer in some special familiar choices which can wave wands around without needing the feat whose major purpose is to enable exactly this? I would argue no. I would say it's just in the realm of silliness bordering on exploitation to have wand-whipping Ravens. And even so, is your familiar really likely to have enough UMD ranks to reliably activate a wand before the master is level 7?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ravens can do it. They can speak and carry a stick (most birds can carry sticks to their nests) so there's no reason to believe they couldn't wield and activate a wand.

Silver Crusade

Imps, Mephits, Lyrakien Azata are all good Wand wielding familiars.

In terms of being the best at UMD, Lyrakien Azata is definitely the way to go.

For survivability purposes, Imps can turn invisible at-will. Azata has constant freedom of movement.

Personally, my favorite is Azatas. She's got DR and a bunch of immunities and resistances. They have a Charisma of 20, they can detect evil and magic constantly, they have constant freedom of movement.

They can cast dancing lights at will, freeing up a cantrip slot

They can cast cure light wounds and silent image once a day

Once a week they can cast commune

They have truespeech, so they serve as a universal translator

Oh, and each party member can listen to her bardic performance for a minute once a day and remove the fatigued OR exhausted condition!


Faerie Dragons are already Sorcerers, too, so they shouldn't even need UMD to cast Sorc/Wiz spells.


if u spend a feat you can give a Imp Fam massive UMD with an eidolon abiltity

Evolved Familiar

Your familiar is different from others of its kind.

Prerequisites: Int 13, Cha 13, familiar class feature.

Benefit: Select an evolution from the list of 1-point evolutions available to a summoner's eidolon.

SO TAKE SKILLED....

Skilled (Ex): An eidolon becomes especially adept at a specific skill, gaining a +8 racial bonus on that skill. This evolution can be selected more than once. Its effects do not stack. Each time an eidolon selects this evolution, it applies to a different skill.

Silver Crusade RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16

thenovalord wrote:

if u spend a feat you can give a Imp Fam massive UMD with an eidolon abiltity

Evolved Familiar

Your familiar is different from others of its kind.

Prerequisites: Int 13, Cha 13, familiar class feature.

Benefit: Select an evolution from the list of 1-point evolutions available to a summoner's eidolon.

SO TAKE SKILLED....

Skilled (Ex): An eidolon becomes especially adept at a specific skill, gaining a +8 racial bonus on that skill. This evolution can be selected more than once. Its effects do not stack. Each time an eidolon selects this evolution, it applies to a different skill.

+1 on the Evolved Familiar (Skilled[UMD]) option. It's amazing.


you can still argue that it still might not have the necessary limbs to use a wand, depending on the creature.

note a sylvan sorcerer can cast transformation on his tiger animal companion, which gives it proficiency in all martial weapons. this does not mean it can wield a longsword, only that it could wield a longsword if it had opposable thumbs.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

I am in the Improved Familiar camp just because of balance concerns. That said, is there any official Paizo adventure where a npc familiar uses a wand?


Clockwork familiars are awesome because of the ability to increase their power and abilities with wands, potions, etc.


Im going from memory, but in PFS I think it is fairy dragon, sprite, mephit, imp, and perhaps one more improved familiar. If it is a home game I would definitely expand that list.

Liberty's Edge

Doesn't this mean that any animal capable of grasping a wand in some way, and speaking gives it the ability to use wands?
So you take Evolved Familiar, pick up skilled, and put a rank in Linguistics. BAM! Now you can talk, and as long as you can hold the wand in some way, you can use it.
So, Monkey, Thrush, Parrot, Raven, Archaeopteryx, Bat, King Crab, Fox (arguably), Hawk, Blue- Ringed Octopus, Osprey, Otter (they have little thumbs), Raccoon, Rat, Skunk (I'm pretty sure they can briefly stand on hind legs and manipulate things with their front paws), Sloth, Squirrel, can ALL feasibly use a wand after gaining the ability to speak.
And you can't tell me that giving your familiar Skilled doesn't give it the ability to speak, because you are EVOLVING and MUTATING your familiar with that particular feat. I mean, you can give a spider a tentacle for goodness sake.


sage archetype for familiars grant two skill points pr lvl and bardic knowledge with very good int. Clever monkey with UMD and ranks in linguistics.


Sage monkey is a good find.


This is the rules for PFS. If it's a home game, ask your GM is really the only answer that matters:

Jodokai wrote:

Mike Brock made a post about it on This thread

Mike Brock wrote:

Wand use doesn't require the book for those few improved familiars - brownie, faerie dragon, imp, lyrakien azata, mephit, quasit, sprite familiars - gained with the Improved Familiar feat

It can use a wand since it is slotless. It uses its master's UMD. No other animal companions or familiars can activate a magic item.


Linguistics doesn't let an animal speak the language, only understand the language.

Lantern Lodge

Everyone is focused on whether an animal familiar can grasp a wand. Grasping and aiming are two wildly different things. Look at how awkward even the dexterous chimps are using sticks - its ridiculously clumsy. It does not bode well for an animal to properly use a wand.


Quatar wrote:


Edit: However, Familiars have to use UMD to use wands, as they get no spell-lists, so does UMD still require them to speak the command word?

Except Faerie Dragons, who are lvl 3 sorcerors (and thus can use any Wizard scroll or wand)


twells: Lots of animals use tools fairly dexterously. Orangutans and chimps make and use spears to hunt/fish. Woodpecker finches use cactus spines to spear larva. Weaver birds are good enough to weave Intricate nests. A Mandrill narrowed down a twig to clean his nails. Orangutans have been taught how to chip stone handaxes.

I don't see aiming as a credible issue, let alone animals that can grasp objects as being "ridiculously clumsy".

Lantern Lodge

graystone wrote:

twells: Lots of animals use tools fairly dexterously. Orangutans and chimps make and use spears to hunt/fish. Woodpecker finches use cactus spines to spear larva. Weaver birds are good enough to weave Intricate nests. A Mandrill narrowed down a twig to clean his nails. Orangutans have been taught how to chip stone handaxes.

I don't see aiming as a credible issue, let alone animals that can grasp objects as being "ridiculously clumsy".

Good Wikipedia search. You are correct that some animals show rudimentary use of tools. However, a GM or PFS decision to not allow animals to use wands seems easily justified by their lack of fine motor skills to manipulate objects.

You, or course, could house rule anything you wish.


twells wrote:
graystone wrote:

twells: Lots of animals use tools fairly dexterously. Orangutans and chimps make and use spears to hunt/fish. Woodpecker finches use cactus spines to spear larva. Weaver birds are good enough to weave Intricate nests. A Mandrill narrowed down a twig to clean his nails. Orangutans have been taught how to chip stone handaxes.

I don't see aiming as a credible issue, let alone animals that can grasp objects as being "ridiculously clumsy".

Good Wikipedia search. You are correct that some animals show rudimentary use of tools. However, a GM or PFS decision to not allow animals to use wands seems easily justified by their lack of fine motor skills to manipulate objects.

You, or course, could house rule anything you wish.

GM or PFS are free to rule however they wish. I find it just as justified to allow wand use because of their well documented tool use. If you can stab a fish with a crudely made spear I wouldn't call that "a lack of fine motor skills to manipulate objects".

Familiar Folio, pg#5 "If you have enough ranks in Use Magic Device or choose magic items that don’t require such checks, your familiar can activate a wide variety of magic items for you. As long as the familiar can speak (like most improved familiars and a few birds) and hold or wear the item as necessary, it can activate command word items and attempt the necessary check to activate a wand, scroll, or staff."

So YOU, of course, could house rule anything YOU wished. The rule is speak and hold or wear item as per the Familiar Folio. All the talk about "fine motor skills" and "manipulate objects" isn't in the rules, just hold... So "Everyone is focused on whether an animal familiar can grasp a wand" was the correct view, unless of course you have a ruling that's been made since the Familiar Folio came out this year.

Lantern Lodge

graystone wrote:
twells wrote:
graystone wrote:

twells: Lots of animals use tools fairly dexterously. Orangutans and chimps make and use spears to hunt/fish. Woodpecker finches use cactus spines to spear larva. Weaver birds are good enough to weave Intricate nests. A Mandrill narrowed down a twig to clean his nails. Orangutans have been taught how to chip stone handaxes.

I don't see aiming as a credible issue, let alone animals that can grasp objects as being "ridiculously clumsy".

Good Wikipedia search. You are correct that some animals show rudimentary use of tools. However, a GM or PFS decision to not allow animals to use wands seems easily justified by their lack of fine motor skills to manipulate objects.

You, or course, could house rule anything you wish.

GM or PFS are free to rule however they wish. I find it just as justified to allow wand use because of their well documented tool use. If you can stab a fish with a crudely made spear I wouldn't call that "a lack of fine motor skills to manipulate objects".

Familiar Folio, pg#5 "If you have enough ranks in Use Magic Device or choose magic items that don’t require such checks, your familiar can activate a wide variety of magic items for you. As long as the familiar can speak (like most improved familiars and a few birds) and hold or wear the item as necessary, it can activate command word items and attempt the necessary check to activate a wand, scroll, or staff."

So YOU, of course, could house rule anything YOU wished. The rule is speak and hold or wear item as per the Familiar Folio. All the talk about "fine motor skills" and "manipulate objects" isn't in the rules, just hold... So "Everyone is focused on whether an animal familiar can grasp a wand" was the correct view, unless of course you have a ruling that's been made since the Familiar Folio came out this year.

The OP specifically asked "So which familiars have can clearly use wands and how do I back up the reasoning if asked?"

The developers and the official organized play campaign have stated this does not include animal familiars. So "clearly using wands" seems to be the domain of improved familiars.

If you want to split hairs and argue a raven can clutch a stick in its talon (note that this is actually passing for a foot on this creature .. the hand would be the wing) while UMD'ing it, go for it.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

twells: PFS has it's own house-rules. As such, it doesn't have to follow the actual rules. The developers should have voiced objections before they printed rules that clearly allow animals to qualify. Developer post disapproval doesn't overcome actual printed rules.

As far as "So which familiars have can clearly use wands and how do I back up the reasoning if asked?". I think the familiars CLEARLY stated as being able to use a wand, scroll, or staff is the best way to "back up the reasoning".

"As long as the familiar can speak (like most improved familiars and a few birds) and hold or wear the item as necessary" is the current standard. Note, BIRDS are listed so I don't see how that's 'hair splitting'. It'd be 'hair splitting' IMO for someone to exclude said raven, not for inclusion. Also, a bird doesn't need to move it's beak to vocalize so it can clutch that wand in it's beak.

For other non-improved familiars/birds, the check is #1 speaking and #2 hold or wear the item. A Ring of Eloquence easily covers the speaking part and holding works for many as fine motor skills isn't needed just "hold".

Avians and Biped can wear rings so Monkey, Dinosaur (compsognathus), Bat, dodo, hawk, osprey, owl, parrot, raven, rhamphorhynchus, snail kite, thrush, toucan make the easiest item users. Others need non-slotted rings or the extra item slot feat plus a holding method.

Lantern Lodge

graystone wrote:

twells: PFS has it's own house-rules. As such, it doesn't have to follow the actual rules. The developers should have voiced objections before they printed rules that clearly allow animals to qualify. Developer post disapproval doesn't overcome actual printed rules.

As far as "So which familiars have can clearly use wands and how do I back up the reasoning if asked?". I think the familiars CLEARLY stated as being able to use a wand, scroll, or staff is the best way to "back up the reasoning".

"As long as the familiar can speak (like most improved familiars and a few birds) and hold or wear the item as necessary" is the current standard. Note, BIRDS are listed so I don't see how that's 'hair splitting'. It'd be 'hair splitting' IMO for someone to exclude said raven, not for inclusion. Also, a bird doesn't need to move it's beak to vocalize so it can clutch that wand in it's beak.

For other non-improved familiars/birds, the check is #1 speaking and #2 hold or wear the item. A Ring of Eloquence easily covers the speaking part and holding works for many as fine motor skills isn't needed just "hold".

Avians and Biped can wear rings so Monkey, Dinosaur (compsognathus), Bat, dodo, hawk, osprey, owl, parrot, raven, rhamphorhynchus, snail kite, thrush, toucan make the easiest item users. Others need non-slotted rings or the extra item slot feat plus a holding method.

If you have to explain the particulars of each animal's physiology and use other other items do work around the core rules, then I would argue it is not "clear".

You obviously believe otherwise - I get it. It's the OP GM's call.


Clear simple test:
If a real world animal can use tools, then the fantasy animal can use wands.
If the familiar does not normally speak, it gains it at 5th level via. speak-with-master.

/cevah

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