How do you back up your Witch Familiar spells?


Advanced Player's Guide Playtest: Final Playtest

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R_Chance wrote:
I don't know about the PFS.

You're right, you don't. If you lose your familiar at first level, assuming you don't buy anything at all, you MAY be able to replace it by the time you hit second level, or by tagging onto a Tier 3-5 party if they're available and don't mind hauling dead weight (gold scales to the number of party members and can't be shared.) Lose one at second, and you're not replacing it until you've hit third level, minimum. This is JUST the Familiar, mind you, not any of the extra spells. After that, you'll be fine waiting until the end of the adventure until you hit 5th, whereupon you'll have to start waiting through multiple adventures again.

Oh, and no saving up spells between adventures, either. Once you're done you're assumed to be 'starting fresh' which means that all your spells are gone and must be re-prepared...oops.

Note that "Playing Up" isn't an option you're supposed to take lightly, either. Technically, if there's a seat at a level-appropriate table, you must take it, no matter how much you need the extra money.

So, yeah. Given that I don't want to ruin a bunch of stranger's days at a con by showing up and leeching gold and XP for a day, I would probably do the courteous thing and retire the character.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

One thing that suddenly hit me: In most of the larger cities you have temples to just about every deity. What's to say that there isn't a local coven in each large city? If you're part of Witch's Local 542 and head to a new major city, why not meet up with the coven there?

Infrastructure might end up being the solution here.


slicertool wrote:

One thing that suddenly hit me: In most of the larger cities you have temples to just about every deity. What's to say that there isn't a local coven in each large city? If you're part of Witch's Local 542 and head to a new major city, why not meet up with the coven there?

Infrastructure might end up being the solution here.

That doesn't fix the problem that it is prohibitively expensive to merely raise your familiar, though is a good solution to replacing the spells lost.


As a side note. A wizard can learn spells from another wizard's spell books. Witches can learn from another witch's familiar. This hoses the witch in another way, especially is witches are supposed to be rarer than wizards.

I have lost count of the number of spells that the party's wizard has learned from the spellbooks of vanquished foes. Odds are if a witch kills another witch, the familiar isn't going to be very cooperative. Not to mention what are the odds of the PCs fighting another witch vs them fighting another wizard. Yay, we beat the big bad evil wizard, too bad you are a witch and can't learn ANYTHING from his spellbooks.

So maybe an easy work around is to allow witches to learn from wizard spellbooks in a similar method to learning from scrolls. This allows the witch to get a wizard to make a backup spellbook for them, but they will still have to learn all the spells from scratch and make checks.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Caineach wrote:
slicertool wrote:

One thing that suddenly hit me: In most of the larger cities you have temples to just about every deity. What's to say that there isn't a local coven in each large city? If you're part of Witch's Local 542 and head to a new major city, why not meet up with the coven there?

Infrastructure might end up being the solution here.

That doesn't fix the problem that it is prohibitively expensive to merely raise your familiar, though is a good solution to replacing the spells lost.

I think the price for the familiar today is fair IFF you get familiar + all spells back and not just the minimum spells. It still probably means my familiar stays in a pocket and is almost never seen, but at least it is better then the utter junk punch it is today.


Galnörag wrote:


I think the price for the familiar today is fair IFF you get familiar + all spells back and not just the minimum spells. It still probably means my familiar stays in a pocket and is almost never seen, but at least it is better then the utter junk punch it is today.

If you get back ALL of your spells the current price is very fair (on par with the cost for a wizard to back up a spellbook). But you don't even get back the minimum spells.

Not counting 0-level spells (always get all) and Bonus Spells

Level...Auto...New Familiar
1.........3........2
2.........2........0
3.........2........2
4.........2........0
5.........2........2
etc.

Notice the pattern.
At 5th a witch will automatically have 11 spells known. A new familiar gets 6 (two of each level spell they can cast). Oh, and at 17th when you get 9th level spells you get your last 2 free spells for a new familiar. Yes, a wizard starting over with a new blank spellbook is worse off, but they also have options to protect against that that cost much less than those available to a witch.

I can understand why it's not 2 spells per witch level (to prevent stocking high level spells with each replacement). I can even accept the current 2 spells of each level they can cast at the current price. The problem is the prohibitive cost of rebuilding their list of spells known. Wizards have cost reducing options to the point of making the cost of keeping a complete backup trivial.

And for those who suggest hiding the familiar away, I thought the point was to make the familiar a more integral part of the class rather than then something you pulled out once a day for an hour when you need it and then conveniently ignore the rest of the time.


Chris Kenney wrote:

You're right, you don't. If you lose your familiar at first level, assuming you don't buy anything at all, you MAY be able to replace it by the time you hit second level, or by tagging onto a Tier 3-5 party if they're available and don't mind hauling dead weight (gold scales to the number of party members and can't be shared.) Lose one at second, and you're not replacing it until you've hit third level, minimum. This is JUST the Familiar, mind you, not any of the extra spells. After that, you'll be fine waiting until the end of the adventure until you hit 5th, whereupon you'll have to start waiting through multiple adventures again.

Oh, and no saving up spells between adventures, either. Once you're done you're assumed to be 'starting fresh' which means that all your spells are gone and must be re-prepared...oops.

Note that "Playing Up" isn't an option you're supposed to take lightly, either. Technically, if there's a seat at a level-appropriate table, you must take it, no matter how much you need the extra money.

So, yeah. Given that I don't want to ruin a bunch of stranger's days at a con by showing up and leeching gold and XP for a day, I would probably do the courteous thing and retire the character.

As I said, I don't know the PFS and I don't habitually do "organized play". Sounds like a good reason to not play PFS to me, at least with a Witch. Of course for you, that may not be an option if you want to play or just enjoy the games that way. If so, you have my sympathies.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Freesword wrote:
And for those who suggest hiding the familiar away, I thought the point was to make the familiar a more integral part of the class rather than then something you pulled out once a day for an hour when you need it and then conveniently ignore the rest of the time

If you've got an Achilles heel, you protect it.


slicertool wrote:
Freesword wrote:
And for those who suggest hiding the familiar away, I thought the point was to make the familiar a more integral part of the class rather than then something you pulled out once a day for an hour when you need it and then conveniently ignore the rest of the time
If you've got an Achilles heel, you protect it.

And that is exactly the problem. The witch is supposed to be a casting class that uses their familiar actively. The current rules make the familiar so valuable that sending it into combat is so expensive as to be suicidal. The cost penalty results in an undesirable play style that is the opposite of what they are hoping to achieve with the witch class.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Caineach wrote:


Except that spell completely removes the purpose of having a familiar. It becomes something that is only ever seen when the witch needs to memorize spells.

You mean like the raven that only exists when a certain Wizard suddenly rememers that s/he has it? :)


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
LazarX wrote:
You mean like the raven that only exists when a certain Wizard suddenly rememers that s/he has it? :)

S/he is doing better about that now.

Witches could always just have a Hex or other ability called "Raise Familiar"

The 500/lvl gold fee would be used in the event that the familiar couldn't be raised for some reason.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
slicertool wrote:
LazarX wrote:
You mean like the raven that only exists when a certain Wizard suddenly rememers that s/he has it? :)

S/he is doing better about that now.

And doin so much worse about many other things... My sense is that V's bill of troubles is just starting to pile up, even before the ICC decide to call in thier marker.


"Integral part of the Class" doesn't mean that you throw your Cat familiar at Ogres! You keep it safe, and it keeps your spells safe. If it dies, get a new one and accept that loss. If PFS is so cehap that you can't possibly have enough cash or promisary notes to do all of that...don't play PFS? I mean, if the sactioned, organized play rules are so strict that you can't amass a few thousand GP of net worth, then it probably isn't worth being involved in.

I still think everyone is overreacting to a little adversity. (lol)

Scarab Sages

cliff wrote:

"Integral part of the Class" doesn't mean that you throw your Cat familiar at Ogres! You keep it safe, and it keeps your spells safe. If it dies, get a new one and accept that loss. If PFS is so cehap that you can't possibly have enough cash or promisary notes to do all of that...don't play PFS? I mean, if the sactioned, organized play rules are so strict that you can't amass a few thousand GP of net worth, then it probably isn't worth being involved in.

I still think everyone is overreacting to a little adversity. (lol)

If every other class is able to function under the PFS rules, doesn't it indicate that the Witch's rules might need to be changed to be balanced with their rules? Given that the PFS gold rules basically just approximate how much gold a character is supposed to have at any given level it seems pretty clear that a Witch might randomly need *far* more, which isn't in line with the rest of the DnD design philosophy.

Also, integral part of the class doesn't mean throwing it in front of an Ogre. I think a friend of Dorothy must have told you that since no one in this thread mentioned it or even implied it. But it also doesn't mean having an animal shaped spellbook that you keep in a pocket and only take out once per day. It's a difficult balance to make. People have always ignored familiars (and other pets) when they're inconvenient. In a game entirely based around managing resources they take up as much as any other character and contribute far less. All it takes for them to be vulnerable is to be another body on the field of battle. Especially at higher levels where Evasion and their little bit of spell resistance will count for nothing.

As I've said before, it's fine if they're fragile if the cost for losing one isn't character retirement. They're never going to feel "protected enough" if they're out and walking around anyway, but that's the nature of DnD. And it'd be best of they stayed a vulnerability of the Witch class. However, the downside should be something other than gold. Because this "adversity" isn't actually something that's fair to the class. It's unlike anyone else's "adversity" for losing something as easily lost. Perhaps you don't understand the scope of the gold cost? (I suggest reading some of the previous posts comparing it to losing a spellbook, which is actually far harder to lose unless you treat the familiar as an inanimate object). Or perhaps you believe that a good GM will just funnel gold towards the Witch to compensate after killing their familiar? I'll just suggest that viewpoint isn't actually useful in a paytesting forum and leave it at that.

In any case, I'd guess that "don't play PFS" isn't a design goal for these classes.


cliff wrote:

"Integral part of the Class" doesn't mean that you throw your Cat familiar at Ogres! You keep it safe, and it keeps your spells safe. If it dies, get a new one and accept that loss. If PFS is so cehap that you can't possibly have enough cash or promisary notes to do all of that...don't play PFS? I mean, if the sactioned, organized play rules are so strict that you can't amass a few thousand GP of net worth, then it probably isn't worth being involved in.

I still think everyone is overreacting to a little adversity. (lol)

If a lvl 3 witch loses their familiar in my current game, they can miss out on 2-3 adventures worth of loot, not PFS. If they want to replace the spells lost, thats annother adventure. Hexes alone do not make a playable character for a long time.

The familiar should not be something that is only remembered when the party has a use for it and is otherwise ignored. It should be something that adds to the game on a regular basis. A walking, talking spell book doesn't do that.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ok, maybe this is just a little too out there, but the familiar is intended to be a physical manifestation of your Pact. The death of your familiar doesn't nullify your pact, so it might not be unreasonable to say that death shouldn't typically destroy your familiar. I think it might be too small a price, but as an example, you might be able to rule it somewhat like a summoned creature and make it vanish upon going below 0 hp, or upon their reaching death's door. Kind of like, but not exactly like an eidion.

If that happens, the familiar will not be able to manifest until the next day. During the time you would normally commune with your familiar you instead preform a ceremony with a small amount of special materials to call your familiar back. It come back with only 1/2 HP and is exhausted. You have performed your meditation for the day, but are unable to replenish any spells used due to the familiar's exhaustion. You will be able to replenish spells the following day.

Note: As a general rule, the familiars should be able to be recalled in most cases, without worrying about specific details. However, when more specific details are called for, any spells or effects which kill a creature outright will actually kill the familiar, not just banish it. Additionally, the GM could at their discretion choose to track damage such that any damage from a single attack that takes the familiar to -Con HP in one attack may outright kill the familiar. If this is done, after any attack takes the familiar to negative HP it will become incorporeal and vanish before any subsequent attacks can strike it that round. Any familiar truly killed in one of these manners, leaves the witch in the position of requiring the more costly recovery ceremony necessary to substantiate a new 'pact' creature.

Some more thoughts I had included, the familiar being unavailable for recalling until the number of days equal to the -HP state in which the familiar fell to. So if a familiar was taken to -7 HP in one strike, it would vanish and not return until a week had passed. One could also have the familiar make a Will or Fort saving throw, modified by the negative damage taken. Failure causes a familiar to forget a spell it once knew of a level equal to the amount missed. Each spell level considers 2 spell slots protected, as are the spell slots granted by the species of the familiar. If the spell level indicated is higher than the spell level available to the caster drop level to the highest level available to the caster. If there are no slots unprotected in that level, then remove 1 spell from two unprotected spell levels with unprotected slots below it. Any such unpaid slots after 1st level will be applied to Cantrips known, causing one to be lost for each slot. [I might allow any witch whom does not have all cantrips would regain 1 each time a level is gained]

All in all, this would make you do what you can to avoid placing the creature in unnecessary danger, but would help prevent the doom that is foreseen that would require some to pocket the creatures.

Another option for those concerned, would allow a witch to maintain a list of lost spells, as long as the new familiar chose spells only from the subset known by the previous familiar, at each level gained afterward, in addition to learning the 2 spells of any level, the familiar will regain access to 2 spells of any spell level less that their highest available. If the new familiar came in knowing any 'new' spells, then the caster either forfeits this recovery option, or removes 2 spells from the 'lost' list for each new spell the familiar has (excluding species ones of course)

As far as IMPROVED FAMILIARS go, I would argue, whatever the process's cost, it would make sense that if the 'old familiar' were still alive, that it would commune or transfer its knowledge of spells (save for its species type of course) to the new familiar in the process.

Actually, someone else mentioned how magic users get many spells from the spellbooks of vanquished mages, it brings up the potential. If a witch is killed, but its familiar survives, such an animal should be 'detectable' by other familiars. Such a familiar might be customarily required to relinquish some or all of its spells to another familiar for the privileged of being set free by a ritual a witch would know.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Rulebook Subscriber
Galnörag wrote:

Okay, did the math...

Basically working with the assumption that in addition to the spells they get for each level, the caster would eventually purchase 4 more spells of each spell level (except level 9 spells.)

So my Columns are:

Wiz1: Cost for the wizard to back up his spellbook
Wiz2: Cost for the wizard to replace his familiar
Wiz3: Total to replace spell book and familiar at once

Wit1: Cost to replace familiar
Wit2: Cost to replace familiar spells
Wit3: Cost to replace familiar spells (w/scribe scroll feat)

I redid the math since I made a mistake, I assumed the witch's familiar came back with 2 spells / witch level not 2 spells of each level the witch knew. Effectively jacking the price for a back up by an additional 2 spells per each spell level that the witch would have learned as free progression.

So here is the updated data:
Level Wiz1 Wiz2 Wiz3 Wit1 Wit2 Wit3
1 90 200 290 500 500 500
2 100 400 500 1000 1000 1000
3 150 600 750 1500 1550 1525
4 190 800 990 2000 2100 2050
5 330 1000 1330 2500 2950 2725
6 420 1200 1620 3000 3750 3375
7 710 1400 2110 3500 5300 4400
8 870 1600 2470 4000 6550 5275
9 1370 1800 3170 4500 9200 6850
10 1620 2000 3620 5000 11100 8050
11 2390 2200 4590 5500 15250 10375
12 2750 2400 5150 6000 18000 12000
13 3850 2600 6450 6500 24050 15275
14 4340 2800 7140 7000 27850 17425
15 5830 3000 8830 7500 36200 21850
16 6470 3200 9670 8000 41250 24625
17 8410 3400 11810 8500 52000 30250
18 9220 3600 12820 9000 66150 37575
19 10670 3800 14470 9500 79550 44525
20 11480 4000 15480 10000 87700 48850


Galnörag wrote:

I redid the math since I made a mistake, I assumed the witch's familiar came back with 2 spells / witch level not 2 spells of each level the witch knew. Effectively jacking the price for a back up by an additional 2 spells per each spell level that the witch would have learned as free progression.

-- lots of numbers --

Don't have time to look over your math, but I'm fairly certain you're correct. You seem on top of that. Even if Paizo addresses what you see (and it appears to be) as a massive defecit vs. the Wizard I doubt it will "even out". This class is about flavor and another way of playing the game. Some class always seems (from one perspective or another) to have an advantage. This is about role playing though, not making every class equal. You either want to be a Witch or you don't. It's not a competative game.

Grand Lodge

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

I redid the math since I made a mistake, I assumed the witch's familiar came back with 2 spells / witch level not 2 spells of each level the witch knew. Effectively jacking the price for a back up by an additional 2 spells per each spell level that the witch would have learned as free progression.

-- lots of numbers --

Don't have time to look over your math, but I'm fairly certain you're correct. You seem on top of that. Even if Paizo addresses what you see (and it appears to be) as a massive defecit vs. the Wizard I doubt it will "even out". This class is about flavor and another way of playing the game. Some class always seems (from one perspective or another) to have an advantage. This is about role playing though, not making every class equal. You either want to be a Witch or you don't. It's not a competative game.

I think for me the key is to find a way to make the flavour of the familiar RP wise not crippling crunch-wise, otherwise my familiar will spend 98% of the time hiding. Now, there are certain situations when you should send you familiar for the hills, one comes to mind recently of a dragon casting stinking cloud and black tentacles in the entry way to its den. I just said, you know what Owl my friend, I will see you later, go chow on some field mice. That's a normal and reasonable action, unfortunately at the expense to replace I'm kind of petrified that a villager farting on it sideways will cost a fortune and a half, and if I keep it trapped in a bag of holding with a snorkel I might get attacked by the SPCA or Peta.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Freesword wrote:
Piety Godfury wrote:
I guess I didn't consider this: Advance Familiar REALLY horks witches. You lose all the bonus spells for the original familiar and there is no list (at least not yet) for bonus spells for advanced familiars.

This is why I haven't even taken the Improved Familiar feat into consideration. Until we get an official word on how it will interact with the witch class it is purely in the realm of DM's whim.

It would be nice if Jason would share his ideas on how this may work with us (not so subtle hint).

Since Celestial and Fiendish versions of the usual familiars are options, I'd allow you to apply one of those templates to an existing familiar if you took the feat.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Any chance the familiar could just roam?

After your morning session with your critter, maybe it heads out to hunt its own food, root around for interesting smells, whatever. They are animals after all and may just need to get out for awhile (they're intelligent enough not to get into too much trouble). "Recalling" a familiar out and out would take X number of minutes (say 10 minutes, 1 hour, whatever seems appropriate) before it's available again.

By no means would this be a perfect fix, and there's a certain suspension of disbelief in places like dungeons and the like, but it would allow for the caster to provide a "safe-haven" of sorts for their familiar, yet recall them when absolutely needed.

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