Improved Familiar and the Witch


Round 2: Summoner and Witch

Grand Lodge

If I look to the rules as written, if a Witch wanted to get an improved familiar, would they have to undergo the the "Learn from Scroll" process to rebuild their bank of spells.

I presume that you can't have the old familiar teach the new familiar all of their spells since one of the requirements for Improved Familiar is they be able to do so, which I took to mean; doesn't have one already, and meets the level and alignment requirements.

So do I understand that correctly?

That seems to be a big burden on the Witch. Perhaps there could be a "Transform Familiar" Hex that allows the Witch to change the familiar from the standard familiar to that of a improved familiar and keep thier spells.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Herald wrote:

If I look to the rules as written, if a Witch wanted to get an improved familiar, would they have to undergo the the "Learn from Scroll" process to rebuild their bank of spells.

I presume that you can't have the old familiar teach the new familiar all of their spells since one of the requirements for Improved Familiar is they be able to do so, which I took to mean; doesn't have one already, and meets the level and alignment requirements.

So do I understand that correctly?

That seems to be a big burden on the Witch. Perhaps there could be a "Transform Familiar" Hex that allows the Witch to change the familiar from the standard familiar to that of a improved familiar and keep thier spells.

A transform familiar hex would be exceptionally wasteful of a class ability. Hex's are key to the witch, if you basically removed one, you would be akin to lopping off the off hand attack off a fighter (/ability to hold shield)

Grand Lodge

Galnörag wrote:
Herald wrote:

If I look to the rules as written, if a Witch wanted to get an improved familiar, would they have to undergo the the "Learn from Scroll" process to rebuild their bank of spells.

I presume that you can't have the old familiar teach the new familiar all of their spells since one of the requirements for Improved Familiar is they be able to do so, which I took to mean; doesn't have one already, and meets the level and alignment requirements.

So do I understand that correctly?

That seems to be a big burden on the Witch. Perhaps there could be a "Transform Familiar" Hex that allows the Witch to change the familiar from the standard familiar to that of a improved familiar and keep thier spells.

A transform familiar hex would be exceptionally wasteful of a class ability. Hex's are key to the witch, if you basically removed one, you would be akin to lopping off the off hand attack off a fighter (/ability to hold shield)

And Improved Familair is a whole lost feat which is bad for any class. Do you have anything that you would propose as another solution?


And Improved Familair is a whole lost feat which is bad for any class. Do you have anything that you would propose as another solution?

A spell similar to the transmogrify spell that the summoner is getting?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Herald wrote:
Galnörag wrote:
Herald wrote:

If I look to the rules as written, if a Witch wanted to get an improved familiar, would they have to undergo the the "Learn from Scroll" process to rebuild their bank of spells.

I presume that you can't have the old familiar teach the new familiar all of their spells since one of the requirements for Improved Familiar is they be able to do so, which I took to mean; doesn't have one already, and meets the level and alignment requirements.

So do I understand that correctly?

That seems to be a big burden on the Witch. Perhaps there could be a "Transform Familiar" Hex that allows the Witch to change the familiar from the standard familiar to that of a improved familiar and keep thier spells.

A transform familiar hex would be exceptionally wasteful of a class ability. Hex's are key to the witch, if you basically removed one, you would be akin to lopping off the off hand attack off a fighter (/ability to hold shield)
And Improved Familair is a whole lost feat which is bad for any class. Do you have anything that you would propose as another solution?

This is all tied up in the discussion in the other thread, the loss of the familiar through death, or through changing familiar is pretty crippling. The spell book coupled to your familiar is cool flavour, and I see great potential with your foe kidnapping or killing a familiar as a good speed bump, but it should be a bump not a cliff. To that end the witch needs to be able to create/recruit a familiar with all the same spells as one lost. The cost of this should be reasonably high in either time or materials, but should restore the familiar to them with all its spells. A wizard (at great personal expense) can create a backup spell book, so likewise a witch should have some way to recreate, or back theirs up. From a flavour perspective perhaps it is like Reincarnate, so it is always the same familiar soul(and hence spell knowledge) just different bodies.

You could talk about what bonus spells the bodies provided, like if you change from a goat to a raven at level 5, you keep the level 1-3 goat spells, but progression continues for raven?

The catch of course is that your familiar has to be dead before you can do this, so if you take improved familiar and your not evil, you would have to wait for your familiar to die :) and reckless endangerment wouldn't probably count as "good"

Grand Lodge

Ok, I haven't looked all of the other threads so far so I must be missing out on some of that info. Thanks for the heads up.

I don't see a spell like the Summoner for recreating a familiar. perhaps it should be a ritual that can be done in a coven?

I like the idea you put forward of same soul, differant body. That's why I put forward the idea of transforming the old to new.

It seems to me that bumping up the familiars power should not be quite so costly.

On a side note, is it not possible to dismiss a familiar? I guess not in the RAW. Maybe I've been thinking of something as a house rule suggestion.

Basically it would seem to me that the familiars need to be able to be upgraded at higher levels to something more interesting if they players want.

P.S. And as for the bonus spells, I'd say that they would change to what ever the new familiar bonus list would be. If I'm willing to pay the price with my LE Witch, I should be able to have an Imp for a familiar.


The way the class reads the familiar is the witches guide to learning their powers. I would probably run with some kind of fated destiny they share. The familiar is a much more powerful being appearing in this plane as an animal.

Thus getting an improved familiar is a moot point as is dismissing it. Its like me asking for an improved past(as a human) :)

Scarab Sages

In my experience people that don't consider having a familiar to be a liability tend to forget that the character has a familiar in the situations that would be most dangerous to the familiar. AoE attacks come to mind as particularly deadly even with Evasion. But also for enemies that want to harm the caster, targeting an animal that is occasionally not right next to the caster is exceptionally easy. One could say that having your spellbook stolen is just as easy, except that it's not. You can secure a spellbook and always know where it is. An external creature, even one you have an empathic link with is more vulnerable.

I love the flavor, and I don't particularly mind a downside to having your familiar die as a Witch. I'd just suggest a less drastic downside than the loss of almost all your spells and a huge gold cost to just getting a new familiar back.

I like the idea that the familiar is a spirit associated with the particular animal but can be transferred to a new body if necessary (in which case "upgrading" a familiar would be possible and improved familiar seems particularly well suited to Witches.) I'd suggest in this case that the loss of a familiar be akin to losing an Arcane Bond. But that it be replaced by a ritual (involving the large amount of gold and time) and put the spirit into a new animal body. Or form a new animal body. Or whatever way a Witch wants to put their familiar into a new shell.

This in no way makes the familiar less vulnerable to being killed, but it does limit the problems. You're worse off than a wizard that lost their spellbook in that it's harder for you to cast the spells you still have. But it's easier to replace the spells themselves if you have the time and money (and possibly access to the animal body your familiar particularly likes). This, in addition, addresses the other difference between a spellbook and a familiar. Which is that a a thief has an incentive not to destroy a spellbook. But no incentive not to kill the cat they just tripped over. So a spellbook has a good chance of being recovered. The dead cat, not so much.

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