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I can only talk about my experience but I noticed a few things during the VTT sessions I did as a GM and as a player compared to real life ones (and I did a few):

-VTTs are tiring, particularly for the GM. We play without camera so we don't see the others and I think that's a big part of it. Having to keep constant attention to what's happening without that connexion is hard. Particularly it's very hard to not start talking at the same time as other players without visual cues forcing extra mental work to make sure everyone can talk.

-VTT are easily boring. If a conversation between the GM and a player or 2 players goes on too long it's very easy to get bored. Empathy is harder without seeing faces so everything seem more distant. Also only one conversation is possible at the time. Usually you can quickly whisper something to someone without losing track of the main conversation, here you can't.

-VTT work well on the other hand when doing tabletop strategy. During fights there are way less problems than the RP phases. Moving tokens is intuitive and having automatic sheets that do all the calculations for you is great.

-Some people can't deal with VTT: I had a GM that didn't want to continue GMing his table with VTT after 2 tests that werent great. Basically the first problem I discussed was too much for him. He felt physically exhausted after (and during) a table. I also had a player that didn't want to play (other table with an other GM) because of a combination of the two problems (tiring and boring).

To be fair the two campaign that were stopped were heavily RP based with very few fights.

I am currently GMing a lighter setting where fights have a huge role and I spend a lot of time crafting maps and tokens so my players have visual cues. It seem to work very well.

Long story short I feel that VTT work well for a campaign centered around strategy and fights, and a lot less for one based on RP and drama.

Looking at the rules of unnoticed the only requirement to be unnoticed is for the opponent to no know you exist at all.

So in a combat if your opponent has not reason to suspect you exist you are unnoticed.

There is an explanation in gamemastery guide that seem strangely worded but may act as a rule :

"So what do you do if someone rolls better than everyone else on initiative, but all their foes beat their Perception DC? Well, all the enemies are undetected, but not unnoticed."

This seems to imply that if you are undetected AND win the initiative, you are unnoticed. If any of those is not true you don't.

I feel that the religion part of Golarion is the way it is to avoid a society that is way too alien to comprehend.

The monotheistic look may be because right now the existing religions are mainly that and a pure polytheistic society is pretty strange for us because we don't have many modern examples for it.

Worshiping only one god is also way more convenient, allowing players to remember the tenets of only one deity and not have their character's day shapped by a multitude of prayers to divinities that may actually answer them.

The ramifications of having that many gods that are not a question of belief but pure facts are not explored in my opinion but again it's probably best to avoid a world too strange to imagine.

It's a bit the same that for magic. It's strange that magic is only used by a few practitionners that are generalists and do everything. Ok learning full schools of magic is hard but many people would probably learn one spell that help their job and learn to do it almost perfectly. A bit like you specialize when learning a craft and not crafting in general. But thinking about all the ramifications of it would take a lot of time to the authors and lead to a world very strange.

So yeah I think the monotheistic approch is the best way to have gods part of the setting but not so entangled with it that you have to rethink from scratch a universe that makes sense with them answering prayers and shaping the world in general.

SandersonTavares wrote:

Not sure if I'm allowed to join a discussion I have not fully read on, but my views on spellcasting, both as an AoA GM (players are almost level 14) and level 6 monk player on Extinction Curse, are as follows:

- The Divine list is simply awful. Not sugarcoating it. I don't really think I could, at this point, agree with anyone that argued otherwise. I feel like it needs 20+ spells that have the flavor and quality of Holy Cascade to feel fine.

- Casters, no matter how you feel about their power level, interact poorly with PF2E's action economy. With most spells and even the crappiest cantrips costing 2 actions, they don't get the opportunity to have many cool feats because of that, and they play in a pretty predictable way compared to martials.

- Cantrips suck at dealing damage. Electric Arc is the only *decent* one, and only when there are 2 or more enemies. The problem is that the equivalence of cantrips and a regular Strike by a martial is awful. I'm not running math on here because I'm sure many others have done it previously, maybe on this very thread, but the point is, cantrips cost two actions to do a very questionable version of a one-action Strike by any competent martial. Sure, you can and should argue that cantrips SHOULD be weaker than strikes, because being better than them is a job for spells that expend a slot, but it's still pretty awful, particularly until level 7 or so.

- Spell attacks suck because they are still hit-or-suck, and they are very hard to hit on desirable targets. They should either deal more damage than they do, be affected by runes or interact in a meaningful way with the action economy.

- Incapacitation is a very punishing trait, and IMO should only prevent crit failures, but still allow enemies to normal fail.

- It genuinely DOES feel better for casters on higher levels, with my level 13 players being very happy with their abilities right now, except for the cleric (which absolutely LOVES the class and is a monster when healing, but feels the divine list...

I agree with a lot of things here.

I don't play cleric a lot but indeed the list seem lacking. It wasn't a bbig problem for me because I had a deity that gave a few useful spells on top of it and in general I find cleric abilities outside spells pretty useful.

The action economy part is so true... You are so limited in what you can do in your round. It seems that it will be a big problem for a martial caster like the magus we could playtest a bit.

Cantrips are bad but I disagree that's a problem. I think the ability of hitting basically any damage type is really good and cantrips should suffer a bit for that versatility so they aren't better than fighter hits against an ennemy weak to them (if they did wizards would be too good against enemies with weaknesses).

Spell attacks are just horrible. The touch CA was removed and nothing else was added to compensate. No item bonus on those attack with runes are just the nail in the coffin. Why would you ever use them when you can target saves ? They should indeed either hit like a truck or have a failure effect to be remotely worth it.

I have no problems with incapacitation. I just use those spells when incapacitation doesn't apply. But I agree having just critical fail become fail on big enemies would make the spells more versatile (and avoid the meta question of "Is that enemy my level or my level + 1 ?").

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Personally I think that the thing wizards are really missing is something that show that they are the ones that study magic and do cool things with it both thematically and mechanically.

The thesis is a great first step and makes wizards a bit more unique but I feel there is room for a bit more.

The current wizard feat pool may be the problem. I don't feel the wizard has a unique identity. Many feats are shared with other casters and many others seem bland (or just terrible like eschew material).
A lot of their unique feats revolve around using their bonded item which is ok but not that exciting. They are good at counterspelling but that is a huge chain to have something a bit useful.
I think many feats could be more like "light thesis" that give them more ways to use magic in ways other can't. I think that for instance "silent spell" is a great wizard feat because it allow something other caster can't do : a sneaky spell. Sadly there are not enough feats like this one that can allow the wizard to break the rules other casters have to follow.

We have to remember that wizards lack something to do other than casting spells like wildshape divine font or bardic performances.
The schools focus spells exist but they do not alter how you play your wizard a lot.
They lack feats to push the few defining features they have : Only one feat for each school if I am not mistaken and no feat to push thesis.

Wizard was the generic caster in 1st ed and it was ok because the arcane list was by far the best and the defining feature of the wizard. Now that all 4 lists are made a bit more equal, the class need something else to shine.
By the way in first ed, wizard had arcanes discoveries that were a great way to convey the wizard identity : a class that understands magic more than any other and that can change the way it works.

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I have no PFS experience but here is my experience with "normal" games with my wizard with alchemist multiclass:

I have a familiar that use master form and she uses her alchemical potions to kill baddies. Ok her health is laughable and her attack terrible but sometimes it works.
My GM also use the dying rules for my familiar and allow me to use my hero points for her instead of my character making her a bit less squishy.

That probably breaks a few rules but that's how we do it. Rule 0 is important for us.

For PFS, familiars are probably terrible, having so many restrictions and undefined rules to make sure they can't be used outside of their "give a few extra things per day" role.
In PFS I think the creature part can be forgotten. Just pick master abilities (but again I never played PFS characters).

In normal games though, discuss with your GM and usually your familliar will work like a normal creature if they are not hating your guts. Yes the rules say that a familiar can't do anything (missing stats, never trained, no reactions, can't act if you don't give orders except with independant, etc ...) but I am sure many GM will prefer familiars that make sense to familiars that respect all the rules.

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Intelligence based caster suffer a lot from their PF1 counterpart.
They were squishy caster that used to have some of the best spells and in abundance and a very high number of skills.

The result when transposed in PF2 : Very low HP. 1 less skill to "make up" for their high intelligence. Bad proficiencies (Abysmal for the wizard). All those things like in PF1... except you get none of the old benefits.

I feel that they pay for advantages they don't have anymore.

I feel that the worst part of this monster is that if it really wants to play dirty (and it's intelligent so it can) it can hold its breath and attack from 40 feet or so beneath the ground (max 60 if it burrows straight down).

First turn it burrows (1 turn of air)
second turn it implants (1 turn of air)
for 3 turns it can attack (doubled so 6 turns of air)
seventh turn it goes back to the surface to breath (1 turn of air)

using 9 turns of air out of the 10 it has.
It can rinse and repeat pretty fast depending on how much time the DM thinks the creature need to breath on the surface.

There are very few ways to attack a creature that is deeply burried.
I am very happy it's an abberation and not an elemental looking at this strategy.

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I don't understand why people would use cat stats for a familiar when familiar doesn't have stats at all.

I think Paizo clearly does not want to give familiar stats for that exact reason : There will always be a tiny animal a bit too good to be a familiar or a set of abilities that can be exploited.

Paizo tries to avoid using the bestiary for character options. Familiars don't have stats, animal companions have a selected choice of stats and abilities, it will be the same for eidolons it seems.

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Eschew material is a relic of the past.

I looked a bit at the spells of my characters and almost none have amterial components. I think summoning does but it's not really the best spells.
This feat is a trap. Except for pure flavor there is no reason to take it.
It's replaced by 5 sp as you said and even if you lose your pouch, 90% of your spells can still be casted.
Also in any situation your pouch is missing, your spellbook probably is too so the ony situation it could be remotely useful is if you are inprisoned (or other situation where your entire stuff is missing), still have spell prepared and those prepared spells happen to have material components (and are useful for the current situation).

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Rolling once feel easier but would get a bit complicated in many fringe cases.

You have to remember that effects are shared only for HP and actions.

Take a spell as simple as noxious vapors. If you roll only once and take the worse result, on a critical failure you would both get sickened. That would make the link extend to more than just HP and actions which is not consistant.

Excluding those spells would remove the simplicity argument, forcing to check for each spell if they affect only HP and actions or not. And rules built on exceptions are not great in general.

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For the "realism" part I don't see why it's less realist than finding enough water in the plane of fire to sustain yourself indefinitively (survival), fall at terminal velocity and make a perfect landing (acrobatics), etc...

When you have +30 in intimidation you don't " just make threats", you basically use words of power on your opponent. Words so violents they can shatter the determination of anyone.Yup those words don't exist in real life but that's not the point.

You don't give a bad stare to the enemy you show them death directly with a few carfully chosen words.
The same as with survival you extract water from pure fire, the same as with thivery you distract someone while sealing their whole set of heavy armor, etc...
Legendary is not mundane. It's basically physical magic. You break reality when making a legendary check the same way a mage casually breaks it.

It's a bit low level but a denizen of leng would be perfect.

They dissolve 1d4 rounds after being killed.
The only problem is that they leave their equipment behind. That will require to be a bit crafty to make that work.

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Old_Man_Robot wrote:

As a side note, I love the alchemist for exactly one thing: Its multiclass dedication.

The Alchemist dedication is the most efficient multiclass in the game, only really needing 3 feats (including its base one) to get full access to its resource pool.

You also just get so many! If you prep them ahead of time, you eventually get 40-42 daily items - which, while not the most powerful on the market, carrying around 20 lots of elixirs that restores 8d6+21 Hit Points is still great at 20th.

Plus all the weird little utility elixirs and mutagens.

It's rather for me to make character these days without trying to squeeze in the Alchemist dedication.

As I said a bit before, for me it's a proof of how bad the alchemist is. I have a wizard MC into an alchemist and it's great. Too great. I don't feel like I miss on anything from the alchemist. If it was the other way around I would not have many important wizard features (school and thesis mostly).

The alchemist doesn't seem to gain more than the ability to do alchemy for free. Of course there is the exception of bombs. As shroudb showed there are plenty of feats that make bombs more useful than just the alchemical item thrown by any warrior.

But for mutagens and elixirs... not so much. Almost everything the alchemist get is the ability to make more stuff (there are of course exceptions). And more stuff is redundant at some point. If you are mutagenist, making 10 mutagens a day is not useful. You will at most use 4 or 5 (and that would be if mutagens were good as discussed before).

Multicalssing into an alchemist you get a few reagents (and by a few I mean almost as many as a real alchemist at higher level) and you have the full versatility of a real alchemist.

Clearly the real alchemist need some bone thrown at them. If for instance a mutagenist had 0 drawbacks from using mutagens they would be better than anyone just buying the thing and drinking it. If a chirurgeon could throw elixirs at friends the action economy gained would justify some of them that feel useless without.
Those ideas may not be balanced but I think the alchemist should have something that makes you want to play the class and not multiclass into it (aside from bombs.)

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I really feel that mutagen suffer from their PF1 version where they were more on the OP side due to their huge bonus to abilities and the fact that those bonus had their own group (alchemical) meaning you could stack them with basically everything else.

Right now a mutagen increases your item bonus by 1 if you have the apropriate item even at high level. Spells give status buffs most of the time so they can be stacked with your items and give their full value.

I don't know if it would be better to make mutagen use the status bonus but right now they are just bad. In one of my games our alchemist basically only use bombs and every 'mutagen alchemist' I had in my previous games reverted to using bombs quickly.

In an other game I have a wizard with an alchemist multiclass... and my mutagens are never used except for quirky completely unoptimized things like giving a feral mutagen to a familiar so it has natural attacks (which is a terrible idea for a lot of reasons).
I feel that a wizard with alchemist multiclass show a LOT of the alchemist problems :
-You don't need that many alchemical items so multiclassing is often enough. Except for bombs but I have fireballs...
-The class abilities are a bit lacking : There is not a lot of differences between a full alchemist and a multiclassed one. A full alchemist makes more stuff... but not a lot better.

To compare if I multiclass into a wizard, I lose the school and the thesis that are both fairly powerful. I would cast 3 times less spells (and I am generous) instead of making maybe 50% less reagents (granted at high level an alchemist makes more batch with one reagent but for quick alchemy the difference is small).

Alchemist feats are lacking but I would say so are many of the wizard ones (it's the main reason many wizard including me multiclass). I think the bigger problem is the alchemist core. Bombs are great but the rest is subpar.

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I feel that the main problem with mutagen is that they seem designed as "fair" consumables. They are useful in specific situations at the cost of a drawback and a bit of money.

Making them for free remove that last bit but doesn't remove the fact that those are average consumables. As many stated, mutagens give item bonus and very often to skills. So they allow an unprepared character to shine a bit more but has no effect on a prepared one (and battle ones are tradeoffs)

The alchemist does get things to make them a bit better but those feats are ridiculously conservative. Basically they get a normal feat worth but requiring to use a specific mutagen like the mind blank of the rogue they get specifically while using the serene mutagen. So at the same level you get a bonus that isn't permanent but last only during your mutagen (which has harsk malus) while the rogue can sleep under mind blank.

I really feel that mutagenist should have something that makes mutagen really feel useful. Halving penalities for instance would help mutagens feel more versatile. At least the feats that buff mutagens should give small bonus to other characters (or even the same bonus wouldn't be too broken I think) so the alchemist get something more than just a normal feat but conditionnal.

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James Jacobs wrote:
HumbleGamer wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
To reiterate here from the stream–a familiar is a companion or friend or mentor (depending on how you want to play that relationship out). It is not a slave.

So, could a familiar decide just to ditch you if the more the game proceed the spellcaster changes its habits or simply become something the familiar is no more affine with? Or its alignement is bonded to the caster ( if i go evil, so the familiar does ).

But I guess the same could be said, eventually, for a companion pet.

I've said my piece on this topic and am not interested in debating it or arguing semantics or corner cases.

Feel free to rule things how you want at your table, but the official stance from Pathfinder's Creative Director is that familiars are not slaves. Use common sense and real-world meanings to parse that as you wish in your games if you want to adhere to the official world lore.

Thank you again for taking the time to answer directly to the topic.

I think I'll stick with the idea that familiars can easily keep their powers if dismissed which seem the best way to stay true to the relationship they should share with the wizard (And I like the idea of an unhappy magical cat ditching their wizard and opening their shop in town :) ).

Yup I see it as a parnership and the creature does understand what it gains.

Again I may have voiced in a way that is not clear but my problem is only that the familiar has those powers that it wanted (or giving them would not indeed be nice and raise other etical concerns) but those things the familiar may want to keep forever are due to the bond with the wizard.

If the familiar and the wizard have a huge disagreement and out of spite the wizard dismiss the familiar (and if being dismissed mean losing the perks of the bond), the familiar would lose basically everything they have. The wizard will lose a familiar it can replace in one week.
The risk for one is way higher than the other.
And that's why I talked about slavery : The familiar has a huge compulsion to never anger the wizard and even obey them to keep their things. And that can make for a pretty unhealthy relation.

If on the other hand the familiar has an easy way to keep those things without the wizard, the power balance in their relationship is way better. The familiar can easily leave the wizard if they want and the fact that they don't is entirely because they WANT to, not because they NEED to.

Alexander Woods wrote:
Zergor wrote:

It's not that you particularly have to desire intelligence, it's than when you have it you don't want to lose it because it is part of who you are. ...SIC... Maybe indeed the way they see the world is totally different but I would imagine loss aversion is a thing all living being share (survival would be way harder without it).

I am now getting a very Cthulhu vibe... As the animal creature, knowing all it needs to know to live and get along amongst it's kind and the world in which it was born. Suddenly raised to a new awareness and understanding of the universe by a being noticeably more powerful than it, including the ability to bend the fabric of reality in ways the creature could never have understood before... But now can...

For the familiar... is this an existential crisis now? Are they falling into the Cthulhu-level madness? If so, perhaps they really WOULD prefer to go back to their previous understanding of the universe. To be able to pretend it was all just some nightmare...

And now, I also extend this thought process to "Are cultists just familiars for Mythos critters?"

I thought about it a bit too but what seem to happen in Golarion is that new abilities are gained mostly painlessly. When you character magically gain intelligence or wisdom nothing seem to imply that their bubble is bursted and that this new way to see the universe frighten them.

I think that it can be seen like an accelerated natural growth of a child's intelligence. You can see that you are better now and that you were foolish before but not in an eldritch way.
On the other hand I would imagine that if that magic were to disappear, you would understand that you are diminished which can be pretty hard to accept a bit like developping a handicap IRL (with the pretty nice difference that in a fantasy world you can always try to get it back).

Again back to the familiar, the idea of losing all your powers can be very frightening. I spoke mostly about the intelligence part because I think it's the worst to lose but a familiar that had magical wings and ended up losing them would probably feel very handicaped. Losing a part of you doesn't seem like a fun experience.

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It depends on what you want to achieve I guess.

Personally in most of my game it's Show don't tell and many players don't like that players justify their character actions by their state of mind because knowing their state of mind is meta information and they prefer to try to decipher the actions and guess what the character meant by them.

Also indeed breaking immersion is often seen as a bad thing in my tables.

What we do though is to talk about those after the game so that we can better understand why things happened that way and also to help the GM know what is indeed on the characters mind for future scenarios.

Sometimes I really want to stop to explain the motivations behind some actions that seem counterproductives, detrimental or flat ou pvp and sometimes I do but I learned that sometimes the RP behind tring to understand a character and their actions without any meta information to orient the discussion can be quite fun and interesting.

On the other hand if I played with people that posess character without any evident motivations maybe I would indeed try to push them to talk about them. Strong BGs help avoiding that most of the time though.

James Jacobs wrote:
To reiterate here from the stream–a familiar is a companion or friend or mentor (depending on how you want to play that relationship out). It is not a slave.

Yeah I imagine that's how the relation is meant to be. I was just a bit overthinking the ramifications of having a bond with an animal that has a higher cost if broken for it than for you.

I think the way I may play it to 'remove' the problem I have is to have the familiar knowing how the bond works and have a contingency to keep it even if it was broken on the wizard part. Not that my wizard would evr do such a thing but again, the thing I am really not comfortable is the idea of having a permanent blackmail on an other being even if you finally never use it.

Brew Bird wrote:
One thing I've noticed in this discussion is a default assumption that a familiar desires intelligence. Why are we assuming this to be the case? An animal mind might be perfectly content to reject magical intelligence that it did not initially have. Furthermore, to characterize it as "death" seems misleading, especially with increasing understanding that many other creatures have inner lives, despite an absence of human-like intellect.

It's not that you particularly have to desire intelligence, it's than when you have it you don't want to lose it because it is part of who you are. Like I said not many people would agree to return to their 5 year old self intelligence. Usually people hate losing more that they like gaining. And I imagine that would be the same for a familiar. Maybe indeed the way they see the world is totally different but I would imagine loss aversion is a thing all living being share (survival would be way harder without it).

Ok so for the familiar to be a companion and not a slave it must be able to use its free will to leave the wizard if it's unhappy with the situation.

That implies that it can break the bond and that breaking the bond will not come at a cost too high to bear.

An yeah for the second part there can be a problem: If the familiar powers are a gift at the start of the bond and are not taken away it's all cool. Which is what some people here think would happen but not all.

If on the other hand like some other people claim here the familiar loses all familiar abilities there can be a huge problem.

It's a bit like if someone follows you because they like you but they also know that a feeblemind will be cast on them if they leave you (not by you, just cast by something but you knew perfectly that would happen when you accepted them by your side). They may like you a lot but at no point you will ever be sure they follow you because they want or because they don't want to suffer the feeblemind. Worse if at some point they really want to leave and you are a nice person, you will have to face the fact that you put them in an horrible situation*.
Granted the difference here is that animal intelligence is a bit higher that feeblemind intelligence and that they were an animal in the first place. Still it's really hard to lose a part of you you lived a long time with. I don't think I would like to be reduced to the intelligence I had when I was 5 years old even if it was indeed my level of intelligence at some point in my life.

*For the familiar case this could theorically be solved by the ritual "Awaken" that would both sever the bond and give them permanently human like intelligence (which is what they seem to have exactly. I tend to read their flat level checks as having basically 10 everywhere ). Could be a cool scenario.
The familiar would lose the other cool abilities but those could be easily be obtained through learning magic (I would imagine the familiar would have a nice headstart for that, being the companion of a wizard).

Nicolas Paradise wrote:

I can't remember where but it was on these forums maybe a year or so ago. But James or Jason said that in universe if a Wizard(or whatever class) with a familiar were to die the Familiar actually keeps its elevated state and magical abilities.

Also the way I read Familiars in PF1 and 3.5 is that to gain a familiar a caster is actually imparting part of their own soul into the creature. Sort of like a horcrux if you will. But if you read up on the 1E spell awakening you can see some of what you are worried about but with a familiar they have sentience for the whole ride where as an animal suddenly given it after being a servert may resent its master.

So at least with good characters I don't see Familiars as slaves but as companions.

Thanks for the references.

So yeah if indeed the familiar get to keep everything should the wizard dismiss them or die that change the relation.
Indeed either the familiar likes the gift of doesn't (which could indeed be known magically before doing it, I always forget divination is a thing) but the familiar would not be bound to the wizard for life. The second would still be pretty bad morally but the first seem ok.

Which mean that you are right, if you check that the animal would be ok with it, if it stays with you with its newfound gift it's indeed true companionship and not slavery.

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mrspaghetti wrote:
Zergor wrote:
Do I read too much into it ?
Definitely yes.

To be fair, I was aware from the start that the answer was yes. But still it was a discussion I wanted to share because I find it very interesting and I hope other people do.

I may even explore those questions with the character I created now that I think of it.

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The problem I have with the concept of pact with an animal is that I can't see a way to make it understand the ramifications without forcing the pact on it.

An animal can't understand the concept of being a familiar.
And giving it the intelligence to do so would force it to accept because of loss aversion. Having gained new intelligence the creature would not want to lose it.

I like that interpretation. That explain well the link indeed.

That doesn't change the fact that the animal get a big boost in its cognitive abilities even if it's not from its own mind.

If both minds are perfectly separated that would not be a problem but I don't know how it would work. Maybe if the animal is trapped in its own body and the wizard takes over but I don't think that's a better fate for the animal.
If they aren't it would be complicated for the animal to not consider the given intelligence their.

I started recently the creation of a wizard concept using the Familiar bond thesis. I wanted to delve a bit deeper into what a familiar mean, how to create it and how to perfect it.

And I thought a bit about the implication of having a magically enhanced being as your familiar.

It seem that a familiar (at least for the wizard, for the witch it's a totally different thing) is an animal that the wizard experimented on and gave high level of intelligence using a special bond (in PF1 it's pretty clear that the animal gain human level of intelligence, in PF2 it's only implied but there is no reason it should have changed)

This supernatural intelligence may probably also mean the creature is perfectly sentient and this is entirely due to the bond with the wizard. Having your own intelligence only exist because of this bond mean you can in no way break it without basically dying. Reverting to an animal intelligence would indeed the the death of the creature that the familiar is right now.

So the familiar has no choice but to follow its master which looks like slavery even if the familiar is content with its situation.

Do I read too much into it ?
Do I make assumptions that are not correct ?

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I tend to prefer Toughness to Diehard for the fact that Toughness may give you extra conscious turns (pretty rarely due to the fact that attacks of your level will normally deal 2 or 3 times what toughness gives but still an extra turn sometimes is a good thing). A few actions before falling can help you a lot.
When you fall unconscious I found that the few turns you have before dying with bad rolls are often enough for someone to stabilize you if really needed. Diehard has it's uses but usually at my tables there is someone that can spend two actions to give a potion (or cast a healing spell or do a medecine check) to my character on the next turn even in the middle of a fight.

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The fun thing is that three distinct triggers exist on attacks due to feats like dodge and raise shield:

-An opponent targets you with an attack (trigger before attack roll)
-An opponent hits you an attack (trigger before damage roll)
-An opponent damages you an attack (trigger after damage roll)

The real question is if those triggers are all valid for reactions. My fear is that as more and more content exist we will have more and more obscure triggers that may allow uses of reaction that may be too good.

Let's note that because the money component of the wish was removed in 2e it's power was reduced.

For it so stay balanced I would consider the "earn income" activity as a baseline. An alchemist feat (philosopher stone) already does something similar.
Here though it's not taking your day but just casting a spell. I would probably go for 50GP* without any drawback (possibly higher with bad effects like the previous post showed).

It's important to take into acount that any day a wizard doesn't use a wish slot they may use it for money at the end of the day.

*50GP is a bit less than what an expert level 19 character would earn. I did not make it too good because it's a 3 action spell meaning it doesn't even require your whole day like the philosopher stone.

Yup, the main problem of alphabetical order is how frustrating the first editions would be.

If you started with the A you would end with a lot of good aligned creatures (angels, agathions, azatas) that don't make for good enemies.

The goal of the bestiaries is to give a good list of friends and foes that can be used in adventures. So a bit of everything is necessary. The logic is to have the most common creatures in the first with a few rare things to spice things up then go to rarer and rarer creatures for the followings (or creatures from other continents or that arn't as important).

For instance it's pretty important to have a good set of low level enemies in the first bestiary (goblins, skeletons, gnolls) that can be found often.

On the other hand they can leave things like agathions for a later bestiary because their stats are less imortants (NG outsiders you will find on the material plane will probably be angels and not agathions. And you would not face an agathion in combat very often)

I feel that this can be really interesting if done correctly. I have been misguided by my GMs sometimes with good effect but it's something you have to do very carefuly.

I think that having very clear but very ignorable proofs of the truth would make everyone regret their mistake and not feel that it's a cheap trap by an omnipotent GM. The less contrived the situation is, the more the player will feel it was their mistake even if the informations were subtle enough to be ignored.

You would probably have to think of good reasons for the situation to not disambiguate itself.
The mage, as a bodyguard would probably put their elementals between the carriage and the bandits which could be a giveaway. Also the mage would probably speak a bit. My players would often offer a surrender to their opponent and if the answer is "Never, bandits !" it may at least puzzle them enough so they think about the situation.

So the mage should :
- For some reason think the players are with the bandits (which can be a huge stretch if the players open their mouths, screaming "leave those people alone !" or something of that effect while entering the fight which is always a possibility)
- If the mage talks you would have to carefuly pick their word so the message adressed to bandits can be taken as a message adressed to guards.

My fear is that you would have to sacrifice realism to keep the illusion and that would leave a sour taste in your player's mouth.

A less dramatic thing for the players but more safe would be to have the mage die (with carefully crafted ambiguous last words) when the fight start and only the elementals pose a threat. They would not have the guard's blood on their hands but still help the bandits. That would reduce the chances that the illusion is broken too soon.

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YuriP wrote:
graystone wrote:
Rysky wrote:
The familiar ability is literally “it understands and speaks a language you know”, it doesn’t copy a few phrases and sounds, it can communicate and have full conversations with others.
You can LITERALLY speak with animals and that doesn't make them sapient. Kinspeech allows your familiar to understand and speak with animals of the same species: does that make all animals sapient. Speech by itself isn't a determiner of sapience. Alexa on my tablet "understands and speaks a language" but that doesn't make it sapient: why would it be different with magic 'technology'?

The main problem is the completely lack of information provided by 2e in familiar rules. We even don't know their main stats to know some thing like how intelligent the Familiar is.

CRB Pg. 217 wrote:


Familiars are mystically bonded creatures tied to your magic. Most familiars were originally animals, though the ritual of becoming a familiar makes them something more. You can choose a Tiny animal you want as your familiar, such as a bat, cat, raven, or snake. Some familiars are different, usually described in the ability that granted you a familiar; for example, a druid’s leshy familiar is a Tiny plant instead of an animal, formed from a minor nature spirit.
Familiars have the minion trait (page 634), so during an encounter, they gain 2 actions in a round if you spend an action to command them. If your familiar dies, you can spend a week of downtime to replace it at no cost. You can have only one familiar at a time.
Modifiers and AC
Your familiar’s save modifiers and AC are equal to yours before applying circumstance or status bonuses or penalties. Its Perception, Acrobatics, and Stealth modifiers are equal to your level plus your spellcasting ability modifier (Charisma if you don’t have one, unless otherwise specified). If it attempts an attack roll or other skill check, it uses your level as its modifier. It doesn’t have or use its own ability modifiers and can never

They don't have stats but they have a value for all competence checks. That value is Owner level + 0 (or + casting ability for 2 of those). So yeah you can argue for the familiar exact intelligence but the fact that it can do better than a human NPC at almost anything plus can do things like quick alchemy with the good ability both tend to put that intelligence around human intelligence (give or take).

Add to that the fluff of the familiar (even if I agree that hard rules are prefered to fluff for those discussions) that describes it as an assistant ("You make a pact with creature that serves you and assists your spellcasting. You gain a familiar (page 217).") and not a pet. It's even stronger for the witch familiar (even if the book is not out yet and may change) that is an creature that basically teach spells to them.

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I think that it's a mistake to use the only rule we have as an all encompassing rule.

Yes minions have specific combat rules but those are that... combat rules.
It's pretty sad that there aren't extra rules for that but using combt rules for exploration and downtime is not acknowledging why there are different rules: the situations are different and thus the rules are different.

Again I will use the animal companion as an example because it's more straightforward than the familiar.
An elve can move 30 feets. A horse can move 40 meets. In combat when my character rush with his mount he is slower than an elve. This is for balance: After having made those 80 feets I can attack twice (or any other activity) but the elve is out of action after his 90 feets.

But of course outside fights when I tell my Gm that my character race as fast as he can he will go faster than the elve even if combat stats would say otherwise. And even in official scenario it works like that: Without spoiler there is one where having a mount is a significant advantage in a race against time. It's common sense and it's balanced. But as soon as combat breaks out mount is back to be slower than the elve taking a full round run.

So what I really think is important to consider is the following : What rules should a familiar follow out of combat so it's fun but not a balance problem.
And because we don't have rules for that it would depend on the GM.

For instance:
-I would probably allow a familiar to act as a (pretty bad) party member in exploration if my group of player is not too big. If I have 5 ou 6 players and 2 familiar I may restruct them more because it may slow the pace and their contribution may not be that important.

-In downtime I would probably allow a lot of fluffy actions but none that have a real effect because downtime actions are balanced around time cost. If a familiar can gain money for their master that doesn't feel balanced (and to be fair I think that in this case the rules give some protection anyway: most useful actions in downtime require to be trained, something a familiar is never).

But those are my personal takes and many GMs would do things differently. Again though, I think it would be bad to extend combat rules outside of it to fill some missing ones in the other 2 modes.

Temperans wrote:

I didnt see owl stats in PF2e but general animal companion bird has low-light vision.

PF1e owls had low-light vision, a +4 racial bonus to perception and stealth, and were said to be nocturnal and silent.

PF2 throws that away. Now you build your familiar from scratch ignoring its species stats. If you want things a specie should have you have to take it with familiar points (like flight for an owl).

Familiar always have low light vision offered so there's at least that.

They can't get racial bonus to abilities (which is a good thing for balance) but they will use your level + casting ability bonus for perception and stealth (and acrobatics) which is pretty good at low level but will fall of hard at higher level (no proficiency and no item bonus)

I feel that indeed there should be an explanation somewhere that minions don't work the same way in exploration and downtime than in fights.
The 2 actions for 1 is clearly here for balance purpose. Action economy is super powerful and if you had a familiar or animal companion that could do 3 actions a turn freely that would break the game (I shudder to think about what an alchemist could do with a 3 actions familiar with quick alchemy).

But it's something that doesn't make any sense out of fights. I saw an other thread with someone pointing than a horse companion is slower than an other horse because it can take only 2 actions a turn. This would be ridiculous in most situation but indeed for fight balance it's important.

To be fair all my GMs are able to read between the lines and let actions that have no explicit rules to be made because they are realistic. So ordering around minions were never a problem with them as long as when a fight breaks out it's back to the 2 for 1 actions.

For the familiar specifically I can see some GM having problems with complex orders because the familiar is not well defined: No stats particularly mean no explicit intelligence which doesn't help for the extent of which a familiar would be able to follow those orders (my gms tend to rule basically human, if it can do quick alchemy it's probably pretty smart, no stats can be seen as 10 everywhere for the same effect).

Again the best solution is to ask your GM before to be sure you are not with the one that will make your familiar stop acting if it ever leave your sight.

I can agree that a familiar is pretty terrible for scouting in situations you expect traps (like in a dungeon) because of it's low reflex save, low perception and low HP. On top of that an owl in some dungeons may seem odd for the resident monster and it may be attacked on sight.
But for scouting in the open it's pretty great. And not many creatures will try to attack a bird if it doesn't seem out of place (granted an owl in broad daylight may be strange but not many creatures will pay attention to that)

Yup it should be able to do that easily if you give it speech and flight as it's familiar abilities.

It may depend on GMs though. An unattended minion (which your familiar will be if it's scouting) will act as they please per the rules. Most GMs I know would consider that your familiar will carry your orders (except when it has a really good reason to not do so) but you should ask before the game to be on the safe side.

I am torn.
On one hand I am a huge fan of familiar and want them to be awesome.
On the other hand I like balance and a familiar is a first level feat that many classes and an ancestry can take.

Hopefully they will have option to be more awesome bu I imagine that this will come with the witch. The witch should have many class feat to have a better familiar (hopefully) and on top of that there will be an archetype called familiar master that should be good with it. I cross my fingers for more feats for familiar in general.

A familiar should be "bad" because indeed 90% of what it gives is the extra cantrips and spells. Making familiar good at doing things by themeselves can lead to a great action economy (see right now the multiple alchemist that lament that they feel they HAVE TO take a familiar for their quick alchemy. I think they otherreact but that's not the point). Action economy can be worth one or multiple feats by itself depending on the action so I don't think it should be on the base kit of a furball.

Right now the familiar is good for an alchemist and okayish for a mage (tend to be better if you GM allow you to use it creatively) but I am sure that in the future, with enough new feats, familiar will be able to be awesome if you sacrifice enough feats (like for animal companions)

It's the first. Both would be redundant. Giving master would break the balance because you are not expected to reach it easily (and certainly not at low level).

The solution is to take time to retrain the feat that is made redundant.
Don't know what you mean exactly by "random free feat". If it's a feat your GM gave you for free, talk to them about swaping it for a different feat in the same vein.

Yup this is very GM dependent.

Ours was indeed asking our specific way to end the effect for each as the victim and as an helper.
Bleeding was treated with a medicine check but for acid and fire we also had a few things to do:
Our GM ruled that for the victim rolling on the ground has a good chance to remove both. The drawback is that with this method you end up prone which is not perfect in a fight.
He also allowed our alchemist to make craft checks to aid another against acid to pour reagents that would make it inert. But otherwise non alchemist people had no way to help remove the acid without justification like having direct access to a lot of water.
Helping against fire can on the other hand easily be done by hitting the parts on fire, snuffing it. So yeah two action no check for it, which is more of a good thing for our enemies than us (like i said we have an alchemist and he is a bomber).

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I would be really careful with rules to break/escape bonds.

Escape is a one action activity that at worse becomes a 1 round activity on a crit fail.
Allowing to use escape as written on any sort of real bonds would make them pretty useless.

If the DC can be beaten (and I talk even for the fringe case where you just have a success on a nat 20 which mean you have DC -20 as your comp) at worse anyone in bonds would escape in a few minutes. Worse case is 20 rounds expected which can be a bit more for someone unlucky but still it's in minutes.

So you end with two options:
-Either a DC so high almost noone can expect to beat it even on nat 20.
-Bonds would logically be broken/removed in less than an hour (and would be less than a few rounds for anyone a bit competent) by almost anyone. Which is fine in combat but creates problem in exploration mode.

You can do an exception for that combat, rule of cool, but if you allow it by default it will make capturing people without having them inconscious almost impossible.

If the manacles problem comes outside of combat I think I would houserule an activity that lasts between 1 minutes and an hour depending of success and can't be easily repeated to escape bonds.

The chirurgeon one is okayish if you use it to it's full power:
Those things having a 6 hour effect mean your full group has to just take one of each every 6 hours to have a permanent +2 to +4 to fort saves against poison and illness.
Granted those are not the most common reasons for fort save but that's something.

On the other hand, the mutagen one is situationally extremely powerful:

Indeed with revivifying mutagen you can basically fully heal in a few minutes which is very nice.
And second, the power of this if you have a small army and preparation time with you is ludicrous. Every single soldier can be under let's say a juggernaught mutagen which will be incredibly powerful except against AoE will targeting abilities/spells.
But that's more of a NPC thing.

But I agree that the free bombs are by far the best ones. They play the role of cantrips for you allowing you to do good damages without using your precious bombs against lesser enemies.

You can argue the mutagen one allow that too but it's not the same because you very rarely lack mutagens. You end up making those in batch of 3 and have a free one with the errata. Add to that that at some point they last one hour allowing you to keep them for multiple fights, the only real use of extra mutagens is abusing revivifying mutagen. And the heal is too low to use it in fight efficiently so it's an out of combat trick (the heal is lower than the damage of a single attack at that level and you need one action to use it and one other to drink an other mutagen).

I feel that the best solution would have been to take this problem in consideration from the start and have special cases baked in spells like a few already have.
Power word kill doesn't require the incapacitate trait because restrictions based on the spell level are already baked in (you will instantly kill a 14th level creature but against a 16th level creature many pure damage spell would have a better outcome in average (implosion for instance even if you can argue it does a bit less on a successful save on the first round of sustain).

Take for instance baleful polymorph. There could have been the following addendum:
Failure: A creature of level 10 or more need only one action to end the spell but only can try once each turn (so at least on a successful second save it would be slowed 1 and not stunned)
Crit Fail: A creature of level 10 or more keep its mind and can spend all its actions on its turn concentrating on its original form, it can attempt a Will save to end the effect immediately.

Heightened(+1): Increase the level required to suffer the lesser outcome by 2.

That could probably be done as an errata but would require a bit of work to remove incapacitate from every single spell.
The result would be to have spells power reduced a bit more thoughtfully so that incapacitate effects are a bit worse than normal spells on high level targets but not almost useless as they are right now (high level targets having often more than 50% chances to crit success their save and failing only on nat 1)

Lyz Liddell wrote:
Midnightoker wrote:

Am I the only one that's really hoping that the Familiar straight up works for the Patron, almost like a liaison of power to the Witch?

Like I actually sort of want the Familiar, in a way, to be more powerful than the Witch they serve or at least, not entirely subservient or without independence.

It might justify juicing them up a bit if they have a little autonomy of their own (though I'd like it to be rigidly codified so GM's can't just hijack a witch).

Idk that aspect of Witch to Familiar relationship having more than just "do as I say small cat!" is a really fun aspect that I haven't seen explored.

This is totally my personal vision of what's happening here, and so whatever happens with the final version of the class, I intend for this still to be an option.

As for the larger question of squishy spellbooks, I'm hearing you that your familiar being a required class feature but a separate creature causes certain problems, even if you're not taking unreasonable risks. We're having a similar conversation here in the office about how to address that. We think the familiar is heavily central to the witch class, so it's not going anywhere (and some of the variants like object familiars are probably going to appear in archetypes rather than the core class - check out the Magaambyan attendant archetype Mask Familiar feat in Lost Omens Character Guide for one example of what this might look like). And while we want there to be some incentive for you to not do ridiculous things with your familiar, we don't want it to be crippling, so we're working on some solutions here.

Oh yeah that would be really cool if the witch familiar is indeed a patron's servant and not just the witch's pet. That would separate it a bit more from the wizard's familiar (particularly the wizard that took the familiar thesis).

It could be done by having a more powerful being but less easy to control. Like mechanically have a limited number of "plea" you can ask so the familiar acts. The effect could be a bit stronger than the normal familiar's one but balanced by a limited number. And a stronger being could be way tougher than a normal familiar (either by having more HP, better damage avoidance, DR or any combination) without being too good. I imagine the squishiness is mostly to avoid abusing the critter's powers (too easy scouting, abusing familiar touch spells, etc...) which would not be a problem if you are restricted in the number of "uses" of the familiar. You could slap on that nice feats like "bribing" the familiar to gain extra uses by paying power (like expanding a spell slot or focus point).
That would also allow to go a bit further in the familiar options without making it too good like having a feat so your familiar is a full caster using your own spell slots. You could thus ask them to cast for you at range but a limited number of time.

This option would both strengthen the theme of the familiar and allow for a more unique witch compared to a wizard (and also solve the currently discussed problem of having the familiar being too squishy).

PF2 made it fairly clear that they don't want people to die on a single roll except on critical fails.

Here the trap is very very punitive and doesn't seem to fit that philosophy.
First the stealth DC is non trivial like all traps. DC 30 at lvl 9 is hard. Yup detect magic works but not all party have wizards and even less have wizard that loop cast detect magic.

Yes the grab an edge is "standard DC" but it's indeed as many people showed a save or die most of the time.

My current character is a champion. He is not the best at reflex saves.
If he falls into the trap he will :

1. Lose either his sword or shield forever (by dropping them as free actions) because trying to grab an edge without a free hand is a bad idea.

2.Have a roughtly 50% chances to be lost forever in the void. If he doesn't grab an edge on the first try he will die because the second try will kill him.
If he does nothing there is 0 way for him to climb back and his allies can't outpace the trap. Falling is fast.
That's my problem. If at least there was a rule on the trap that said that disabling it causes to spit everything that is lost in the dimensional space the trap would feel fairer.
Or it could teleport people up repetedly so while the fall is infinite and fall damages accumulate, the distance to the top can't be more than a given limit, allowing other people to reach you.

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In pathfinder 1 familiar managed to survive pretty well thanks to their improved evasion (gained at level 1)*.
Maybe damage avoidance should be a bit better and allow both no damages on success and half damage on fail or maybe if it's too good add improved damage avoidance so that they can consider failed saves as success and maybe crit fail as fail (like if they were legendary).
The second one would make good use of the extra abilities of a witch's familiar.

That would allow familiars to not die each time a dragon breath on the master.
Basically with improved damage avoidance familiars would like in PF1 always consider their success one level above reality and thus only critical fails (which should not be really common because they use the full reflexes of the witch) would be a real problem for them. But so would they be for the witch anyway.

*except against evil clerics that love channeling as my poor familiar could attest. In PF2 you could protect them also against that if you have abilities to lose though.

A particularly cunning enemy will indeed try to hit the familiar to deal with the witch.
It's only an efficient strategy for an enemy that tries to gain an advantage for a later fight. Killing the familiar has 0 effect until the next witch preparation. So unless your GM hates you, very few enemies will go for the familiar but it's a possiblity.

Your familiar has your saves though and it can even be better than you with damage avoidance so spells that aren't pure damages won't work better on it than on you. All debuffs are useless on it and a save or die would work on you if it works on it.

So the only thing really left are AoE that will hit both the familiar and you. Many would just be against you and the familiar would be the secondary target.

Using some points for damage avoidance (reflexe) and lifelink are a pretty good way to not have the familiar die. Granted lifelink mean you will basically take double damage on AoE if your familiar is in danger of dying.

If you really don't want your familiar to die : You buy bottled air, give the familiar manual dexterity and put both in your bag of holding. Your familiar will breath the bottled air and be untargetable for 395GP.
That's the price to pay to keep it safe.

I always thought "Wisdom" was a bad word to describe what it does. Wisdom encompasses will, senses acuity (or at least awareness) and instinct more than wisdom (animals tend to have high wisdom and they are not "wise").

Personally if I had to name the ability I would probably go for "Acuity". Because this ability both deal with acuity of senses and acuity of mind.
But this ability kept it's name through multiple D&D and pathfinder extension to the point it's probably way too iconic to change.

Anyway personally I would not see it as a problem to have a very unwise character with a high wisdom score.

Laran wrote:

I think that making all skills UNTRAINED helps tone down the power.

The familiar can use demoralize, coerce (albeit with penalties) and recall knowledge. This is why I made the my comment about not being "study buddies".

They can aid another. That's what I meant by study buddy (that and the whole fluff of familiars). They can give you +1 basically all the time in downtime and exploration by helping you (granted they manage to beat the DC which is not a given).

That's also why I think +0 for most skills would be better: Aid another would fail for those. Level + ability +2 for the few you decide to upgrade using feats would mean better chances.

And you have to remember that class feats are meant to be powerful. I don't think giving your familiar trained in two skills (which is only for witch and at lvl 8 and only once) would be that much better than let's say the rogue multiclass feat that gives you expert in a skill and master in an other + a skill feat and can be taken 5 times.

I agree that the familiar one would mean a great action economy be it in combat or in downtime but I don't think it would be OP. First because of your familiar inherent limits (0 items bonus and low proficiency will make their check way harder than if you did it).

Like for the animal companion, I think that if you invest feats (particularly class feats) in your familiar you should gain extra options.
Right now for the witch feat, giving +ability to two skills and nothing more seem really weak compared to the other feats.

I rest my case:
For me a familiar should be almost useless at lvl 1 aside from the master/familiar abilities (and the extra pair of eyes) but if you choose to invest feats in them their use should dramatically increase (and that should not be direct combat use to separate them from animal companions).
Also I don't think familiar warrant special rules on skills. So if untrained their score should be 0 and if trained their score should be level+2. That makes them in line with other creatures without complicating the rules for them.

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