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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.

I really don't think a catch all is really needed. In PF1 the familiar had their animal stats for catch-all which were basically +0 to +4. I don't think rounding everything to 0 would be a big deal.

The strange thing with having their level in everything is that you can use you familiar for a double recall knowledge on basically any creature for one action granted you speak their language. I like the idea of familiar using recall knowledge but I don't like the fact thet they have it for free baseline on all skills (even if it's with a relatively low chance of success at level +0).

And while I agree with you that a familiar should be near useless in combat aside from the deliver spell ability (and the master abilities), I think that if a feat is spent on a familiar (like the 8th level witch feat) it should give the familiar real out-of-combat usefulness (or minor combat usefulness like doing your recall knowledge for you).

The familiar contrary to animal companion has a minimalistic stat bloc, mostly because the main features of the familiar seem to be the familiar/master abilities and not the creature that comes with them.

But I feel that this super minimalistic approach doesn't really work for skills. Familiars can use skills using their level. They add the caster ability score for perception and 2 skills (acrobatics and stealth).

There are two main problems for me:

-First the proficiency doesn't appear anywhere. I imagine that mean the familiar is untrained for everything. Which is odd because being untrained in acrobatics (one of the only two skills it has a bonus) prevent it from using maneuvers in flight if it's a flying creature if really feel odd.
Plus now that the witch has a feat to give the bonus to more skills it really feel that proficiency for those should be increased to trained. Many action require to be trained and it would be nice to have a way for the familiar to use those too.

-Second, while untrained in everything, the familiar is better than anyone untrained at medium/high level because it uses their level as an untrained value instead of ability + 0 (or just 0 in their case). They basically have the bard ecclectic skill feat (a 8th level feat) which also feel odd. Ok the familiar is a study buddy for the mage but that doesn't explain why it has a bit of knowledge on every single topic in existence.

I really think that the familiar skills should be changed. They should be trained in a very limited set of skills (acrobatics + stealth + other skills via feats or even maybe an option through familiar abilities) and perception for which they can use their full proficiency bonus (level+2) + caster ability* and they have a +0 bonus for the rest.

*An other option can be to have their ability score always be 0 but to allow their proficiency to increase by one mean or an other (probably never above expert) for roughly the same final score.

This would make them consistent with the rest of the creatures and the proficiency system, more useful for the few things they are meant to be good at but less a jack of all trades that can use any skill untrained with relative efficiency.

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I am against having familiar becoming too good in combat. That's not their role.

On the other hand I love familiars thematically and would really like more feats to buff their usefulness in general (like companions get).

For instance the feat for the witch that give them +Ability to two extra skills is a start. Shame that is the only one (for now, it's a playtest).

Talking about this feat, I have a really big problem with familiars: their skills are a mess.
First for no reason they can use all skills as a bard would do untrained (level+0 instead of 0 if we consider the familiar to have 0 ability modifiers) and second the skills they have a bonus (perception,athletics and stealth) seem to stay untrained. Which mean a bird familiar could not maneuver in the air because it's a trained action.

Same for the feat. It doesn't give proficiency so yeah having bonus to 2 skills is nice but if they stay untrained it really limits what the familiar can do with them. My dream is to have options so that if you invest a bit of feats in your familiar you can have one that match the fluff of a familiar (like a mage assistant that really CAN do his paperwork and the cleaning or a witch familiar that indeed can explain her some of the secrets of magic).

I could also imagine class feats that give familiar a skill increase + a skill feat adapted to it so you can customize a bit more what your familiar can do (that would be on the power level of the rogue muticlass, a bit stronger for time economy and a bit weaker cause familiars have usually less bonus than the character)

In combat I think that the only thing familiar should do well is spells. And because spells are powerful that should not generate action economy. I would like for instance a feat that allow the caster to transfer their magical energy to their familiar so that they can cast any spell without contact. That would allow people to roleplay their familiar being able to cast, that would allow strategically to cast from multiple angles but if that requires an action for the transfer and an action to order the familiar and the familiar has to use 2 actions to cast it's not too powerful from an action economy point of view.

If advanced familiar comes back I hope it will really revolves around either utility or spells and not raw stats.