Improved Familiar Eligibility


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When multiclassing, do class levels from each class entitled a familiar stack for the purposes of being eligible for taking Improved Familiars, or do all of the levels need to be from a single class?

From Familiars:
Levels of different classes that are entitled to familiars stack for the purpose of determining any familiar abilities that depend on the master's level.

This rule makes it sound like the levels would stack for determining the familiar's abilities from the familiar table, but not necessarily the eligibility requirements.


There is a July 2016 FAQ to answer this question. It says the arcane caster level is based on the effective wizard level of the character, which means that it will be the highest level among the classes that gain a familiar. Effects that say that they increase an existing caster level, such as the Eldritch Knight prestige class, could increase the effective caster level of a class.

FAQ wrote:

Improved Familiars: There are various ways for characters other than arcane spellcasters to gain familiars at this point, and some of those options even grant Improved Familiar as a bonus feat, but technically each Improved Familiar option requires a certain arcane spellcaster level to take it. Does that mean that non-arcane characters with Improved Familiar have a dead feature? How does it work? If it does work, can I take an Improved Familiar as some kind of variant familiar or a temporary familiar like the occultist’s soulbound puppet?

The Improved Familiar description was written back when only arcane spellcasters could have familiars, and it wasn’t sufficiently future-proofed. To that end, you can always substitute your effective wizard level for the purpose of determining your familiar’s abilities for “arcane spellcaster level” to determine the available improved familiars for your character. In general, you can take Improved Familiars for class-granted variant familiars like a shaman’s spirit animal, with a few exceptions: First, temporary familiars like the occultist’s soulbound puppet can’t become Improved Familiars from the Improved Familiar feat, and those class features don’t qualify you to take the Improved Familiar feat. Second, tumor familiars, as lumps of flesh in the shape of animals, can’t become Improved Familiars. In other cases, treat Improved Familiar as if it was an archetype to see if it stacks with other familiar options: since the two things it alters from a regular familiar are that it removes the ability to speak with animals of its kind and it prevents changing the creature type for non-animals, you couldn’t make a familiar that changes the creature type of non-animals or alters or removes speak with animals of its kind an Improved Familiar.


Generally, classes that grant familiars do so with an effective wizard level that stacks with all other wizard levels. This is why it is hard to get more than one familiar, since you have only once total effective wizard level. The wording is in the class feature that grant the familiar.

/cevah


To clarify, Cevah is right and I was confused. I forgot that when abilities talking about familiars, the level of the character that determines the progress of the familiar is called "effective wizard level." This is because in the Core Rulebook only a wizard could have a familiar (though in D&D 3rd Edition, sorcerers could also have familiars). So the rules about the advancement of the familiar for other classes spoke of the familiar that a wizard of that level would have, i.e., "effective wizard level."

Since I forgot about that odd meaning of "effective wizard level," I assumed it had something to do with arcane spellcaster level.


Mathmuse wrote:
This is because in the Core Rulebook only a wizard could have a familiar.

Not quite true, the Arcane sorcerer bloodline is in the core rulebook and allows a sorcerer to take a familiar.


SuperJedi224 wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
This is because in the Core Rulebook only a wizard could have a familiar.
Not quite true, the Arcane sorcerer bloodline is in the core rulebook and allows a sorcerer to take a familiar.
Core Rulebook, Sorcerer class, Arcane bloodline wrote:
Arcane Bond (Su): At 1st level, you gain an arcane bond, as a wizard equal to your sorcerer level. Your sorcerer levels stack with any wizard levels you possess when determining the powers of your familiar or bonded object. This ability does not allow you to have both a familiar and a bonded item. Once per day, your bond item allows you to cast any one of our spells known (unlike a wizard's bonded item, which allows him to cast any one spell in his spellbook).

Okay, I am more confused. Why did Paizo describe familiars solely in terms of wizards when even in the Core Rulebook one non-wizard could have a familiar? Saying "total levels in familiar-granting classes" rather than "effective wizard level" would have been clearer. I hope they fix this in Pathfinder 2nd Edition.


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Effective Wizard level is three words.

Total levels in familiar-granting classes is five, kinda six, words.

That's literally twice the effort to say, and twice the cost to print.

Why does it matter? If you have access to a familiar, you have effective wizard levels, which stack with real wizard levels, and other effective wizard levels as per RAW/RAI... I do not see a problem.

Eldritch Guardian Fighter, Duetist Bard, Arcane Sorcerer, Carnivalist Rogue, and the multitude of others all stack for determining the level of the familiar.

You could find 7 classes that offer a familiar at level one, taking one level in each of those classes, and qualify for a 7th level Improved Familiar.

This is covered in a FAQ linked in the description of Improved Familiar on D20pfsrd.


VoodistMonk wrote:

Effective Wizard level is three words.

Total levels in familiar-granting classes is five, kinda six, words.

That's literally twice the effort to say, and twice the cost to print.

Why does it matter? If you have access to a familiar, you have effective wizard levels, which stack with real wizard levels, and other effective wizard levels as per RAW/RAI... I do not see a problem.

Eldritch Guardian Fighter, Duetist Bard, Arcane Sorcerer, Carnivalist Rogue, and the multitude of others all stack for determining the level of the familiar.

You could find 7 classes that offer a familiar at level one, taking one level in each of those classes, and qualify for a 7th level Improved Familiar.

This is covered in a FAQ linked in the description of Improved Familiar on D20pfsrd.

I could leave off the word "total" and drop the word count to five. How about "familiar-granting levels"? That is 21 letters, only a little worse than the 20 letters in "effective wizard level." Okay, I am joking. The Core Rulebook does not use the phrase "effective wizard level" so its word does not matter. The FAQ uses the phrase.

"Effective wizard level" is short for effective wizard level for familiar advancement. It is not effective wizard level for spellcasting nor effective wizard level for arcane bond nor effective wizard level for wizard school abilites. I have to remember that familiars are considered a wizard ability and that all classes with familiars gain an effective wizard level for the advancement of their familiars. The FAQ I quoted above started talking about arcane spellcasters rather than wizards and that did not trigger my memory of that peculiar convention. Only Cevah's better description triggered the memory.


It doesn't have to define effective wizard levels...

Improved Familiar is what wants defined arcane spellcaster levels for the advancement of familiars.

Getting a familiar comes with effective wizard levels, but they didn't want to give a Carnivalist Rogue arcane spellcaster levels, because they have no spells, and are not arcane in any way other than being associated with a familiar.

Effective Wizard levels being completely useless outside of determining the familiar level will keep non arcane characters from having spellcaster levels that may otherwise be counted as prerequisites for something else.

The wording would have had to replace "effective wizard levels" with "effective arcane spellcaster levels" and that is a much bigger can of worms.

Effective Wizard levels is the safest way to go about stacking levels that granted familiars to allow the familiar to level up or be eligible for Improved Familiar, without giving non arcane characters spellcaster levels.

Hope that makes sense.

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