# of actions for a familiar to deliver a touch spell to an ally


Rules Questions

Sczarni

5 people marked this as FAQ candidate. Staff response: no reply required.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Say I'm a 5th level Cleric with a tiny-sized Familiar. It has Speak with Master, so I can tell it what I want it to do. I've also taken the Evolved Familiar feat, granting it reach, so it doesn't have to move into someone's square to touch them.

I use a standard action to cast cure light wounds, designating my Familiar as the "toucher". My injured ally is within one movement of my Familiar. Can my Familiar...

A) Move adjacent to my ally, touch him as a free action, and move back to me?

...or does it...

B) Move adjacent to my ally and touch him as a standard action?

Obviously I'd prefer it to be A, but since touching an ally normally doesn't require an attack roll, I'm leaning towards A anyways. I already used my standard action to cast the spell. My Familiar shouldn't have to.

Thoughts?


If you're holding the charge on a touch spell, it's a standard action to discharge it. When you cast a touch spell, you get to make a single touch attack in the same round, but your familiar didn't cast the spell, so it doesn't get a free touch attack.

This is from the Magic chapter.


Dumb question but how do you have a familiar as a cleric? Are you multiclassing?


Jeon, anyone can have a familiar via the Eldritch Heritage Arcane Bloodline.

Nefreet, Pupsocket is correct. It would normally take a move action and a standard action leaving nothing left for the familiar to do to get back to you. However, there are a couple ways to pull off the first option.
A quick runner's shirt would grant an extra move action once per day.
Any Familiar with Flyby Attack can fly to the target, spend a standard action, turn around (burns 10feet of movement and requires a fly check) and return.

- Gauss


I actually think option A might be correct. Here is my reasoning:

First he spends his standard action to cast the spell, then (assuming he is in contact with his familiar) his familiar is designated as the toucher. Looking at the text from "touch spells in combat" the familiar could use a move action to move to the friendly target and use a free action to touch. Then a move action back. Or more accurately a double move action interrupted by a free action by the familiar.

Or am I missing something? I did find one issue in the section "holding the charge" right after Touch spells in combat. In this section touching a friend while holding a charge from a spell cast in a previous round did in fact require a standard action.

Core Rulebook: combat - Touch spells in combat:

Touch Spells in Combat: Many spells have a range of touch. To use these spells, you cast the spell and then touch the subject. In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) as a free action. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target. You can automatically touch one friend or use the spell on yourself, but to touch an opponent, you must succeed on an attack roll.

Core rulebook: classes - wizard - Deliver Touch Spells (Su):

Deliver Touch Spells (Su): If the master is 3rd level or higher, a familiar can deliver touch spells for him. If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a touch spell, he can designate his familiar as the “toucher.” The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master would. As usual, if the master casts another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates.

Holding the charge:

Holding the Charge: If you don't discharge the spell in the round when you cast the spell, you can hold the charge indefinitely. You can continue to make touch attacks round after round. If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges. If you cast another spell, the touch spell dissipates. You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action. Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge. In this case, you aren't considered armed and you provoke attacks of opportunity as normal for the attack. If your unarmed attack or natural weapon attack normally doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity, neither does this attack. If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.


Jeon, that is an interesting thought process.

Typically, the belief is as follows:
The free action to deliver a touch spell only applies in the round that the caster casts the spell. Subsequent rounds require a standard action. Since the Familiar did not cast the spell it cannot deliver it as a free action and thus requires a standard action to deliver the touch spell.

However, with the concept that the familiar is delivering 'as the Master would' it brings up a question of what action a familiar delivering the touch spell in the same round as the Master uses. Personally, I still think it is standard but I can see wiggle room for a free action.

Perhaps a FAQ or further research is in order.

- Gauss

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Gauss wrote:
However, with the concept that the familiar is delivering 'as the Master would' it brings up a question of what action a familiar delivering the touch spell in the same round as the Master uses.

That's my OP in a nutshell. Thanks.

I hadn't considered that the rules for "holding the charge" are meant to apply for rounds after casting the spell, and not during the round in which is was cast.

More evidence for A?

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Jeon wrote:
Dumb question but how do you have a familiar as a cleric? Are you multiclassing?

Took me a while to find something other than Eldritch Heritage. Recently someone else suggested taking the Separatist Cleric archetype, and taking the Eagle Domain as my secondary Domain. Two of my feats are going towards Boon Companion and Evolved Familiar. If I had gone Eldritch Heritage it would have required 4 feats instead of 2.


Nefreet wrote:
Jeon wrote:
Dumb question but how do you have a familiar as a cleric? Are you multiclassing?
Took me a while to find something other than Eldritch Heritage. Recently someone else suggested taking the Separatist Cleric archetype, and taking the Eagle Domain as my secondary Domain. Two of my feats are going towards Boon Companion and Evolved Familiar. If I had gone Eldritch Heritage it would have required 4 feats instead of 2.

I have a couple of questions, since I don't play clerics and don't know much about them. Are you allowed to take Druid domains as a cleric? Secondly, if you are able, the Eagle Domain states your familiar follows your "druid" level, but there seems to be no mention that your cleric level is your effective druid level?

And, if those two questions are OK, what do you need Boon Companion for? Did you multiclass? Otherwise it seems as if it would do nothing for your familiar as you would already be at max effective level for the familiar.


Dr Grecko wrote:

I have a couple of questions, since I don't play clerics and don't know much about them. Are you allowed to take Druid domains as a cleric? Secondly, if you are able, the Eagle Domain states your familiar follows your "druid" level, but there seems to be no mention that your cleric level is your effective druid level?

And, if those two questions are OK, what do you need Boon Companion for? Did you multiclass? Otherwise it seems as if it would do nothing for your familiar as you would already be at max effective level for the familiar.

Your cleric can take druid domains if you use the separatist archetype, or if your GM believes you are a 'nature oriented' cleric/inquisitor/domain getter. The list of druid domains states at the bottom (the last sentence) that other classes that are nature oriented and have access to domains can choose them. the very strict wording of each domains states 'druid level' to determine its powers but the sentence at the bottom pretty much clarifies that other classes can use them and get abilities based on their level of whatever class is granting the domain. i don't know any GM that would be that strict considering that last sentence, even in my local pfs.

The separatist archetype gives you another domain, but at your level -2 so boon companion would make up for that -2.


asthyril wrote:
Dr Grecko wrote:

I have a couple of questions, since I don't play clerics and don't know much about them. Are you allowed to take Druid domains as a cleric? Secondly, if you are able, the Eagle Domain states your familiar follows your "druid" level, but there seems to be no mention that your cleric level is your effective druid level?

And, if those two questions are OK, what do you need Boon Companion for? Did you multiclass? Otherwise it seems as if it would do nothing for your familiar as you would already be at max effective level for the familiar.

Your cleric can take druid domains if you use the separatist archetype, or if your GM believes you are a 'nature oriented' cleric/inquisitor/domain getter. The list of druid domains states at the bottom (the last sentence) that other classes that are nature oriented and have access to domains can choose them. the very strict wording of each domains states 'druid level' to determine its powers but the sentence at the bottom pretty much clarifies that other classes can use them and get abilities based on their level of whatever class is granting the domain. i don't know any GM that would be that strict considering that last sentence, even in my local pfs.

The separatist archetype gives you another domain, but at your level -2 so boon companion would make up for that -2.

Ahh.. There it is. It all makes sense now :)

Still, Boon companion for familiars doesn't seem like that good a choice to me. You don't really gain a whole lot from a 2 level boost in the familiar progression. I would almost consider dropping boon companion and using the feat on something else.. Maybe even another Evolved Familiar feat if one was so inclined.

Is it possible to take improved familiar with this setup? Maybe not since it seems you're limited to a hawk familiar.


the problem is that, especially in pfs where you basically stop at level 11, boon companion allows you to take improved familiar to get a level 7 familiar at level 7,instead of level 9, when you're almost done anyway. if it is important to get your improved familiar as quickly as possible, boon companion may be worth it (also there aren't that many 1 point evolutions that are worth it for familiars)


asthyril wrote:
the problem is that, especially in pfs where you basically stop at level 11, boon companion allows you to take improved familiar to get a level 7 familiar at level 7,instead of level 9, when you're almost done anyway.

Boon Companion doesn't affect your Arcane Spellcaster Level at all.

Boon Companion: "The abilities of your animal companion or familiar are calculated as though your class were 4 levels higher, to a maximum effective druid level equal to your character level."

That only affects the abilities of your AC or familiar.

Improved Familiar: "Prerequisites: Ability to acquire a new familiar, compatible alignment, sufficiently high level (see below)."

An Imp, for example, requires Arcane Spellcaster Level 7th. That's the requirement you as the master must have in order to select that familiar. Boon Companion has no effect on this at all.


well, if in your opinion increasing your class level by 4 levels does not include arcane spellcasting levels for improved familiar, i disagree. it gives you 4 levels for abilities, i do not see the difference in getting 4 levels for improved familiar as opposed to anything else. the reason it does not specify spellcaster levels is because the feat is designed for 2 classes (druids and wizards), youre supposed to level whichever is appropriate in order to determine what you get.

so boon companion DOES give 4 arcane spellcaster levels for people with familiars, or 4 druid levels for people with animal companions. class levels are class levels.

Scarab Sages

I don't have the book in front of me, but the Valet Familiar Archetype in Animal Archive includes the ability for the familiar to move before and after delivering a touch spell to a friendly target. This would seem to imply that familiars don't have that ability normally.

Scarab Sages

I should also add that it's a single move, much like Spring Attack, but only targeting friendlies. Also, from what I remember, it doesn't say anything about not provoking, so if the familiar moves through a threatened square they could still get hit.


asthyril wrote:
the problem is that, especially in pfs where you basically stop at level 11, boon companion allows you to take improved familiar to get a level 7 familiar at level 7,instead of level 9, when you're almost done anyway. if it is important to get your improved familiar as quickly as possible, boon companion may be worth it (also there aren't that many 1 point evolutions that are worth it for familiars)

That's a tough one to calculate. It's the separatist archetype that is limiting your cleric level, so I would say the level of familiar you can select with improved familiar is based off of that.. The boon companion feat would then increase the abilities of that familiar to the full level.

A few 1 point evolutions I would consider would be Resistance-fire (helps keep him alive), Improved Natural Armor (+2 AC when boon companion would only net a +1), Gills or Swim (if underwater adventures are in your future), Skilled (extra perception or stealth), Unnatural Aura (because it's cool), or Scent (invisible rogue detection)

I'm not saying boon companion is a terrible idea.. just not the most optimal when its main benefits is a two level increase on the familiar progression, which is of minimal benefit.


What about:

  1. Caster readies an action to cast the touch spell when the Familiar touches the target.
  2. Familiar hops to the square the ally is in, and bumps him/her/it.
  3. Caster now casts readied spell.
  4. Familiar immediately discharges said spell, as it's already touching an eligible target.
If you have Familiars act on the same initiative as their Master, this would be a valid way to go about it.

Dark Archive

asthyril wrote:

well, if in your opinion increasing your class level by 4 levels does not include arcane spellcasting levels for improved familiar, i disagree. it gives you 4 levels for abilities, i do not see the difference in getting 4 levels for improved familiar as opposed to anything else. the reason it does not specify spellcaster levels is because the feat is designed for 2 classes (druids and wizards), youre supposed to level whichever is appropriate in order to determine what you get.

so boon companion DOES give 4 arcane spellcaster levels for people with familiars, or 4 druid levels for people with animal companions. class levels are class levels.

Well if you'll go back and read what you quoted it only does that for your DRUID level not your wizard level. For an arcane caster there is no limit on how high you can raise your familiar's effective level.

Also the Boon companion feat does NOTHING for your druid/wizard. It only affects the abilities of the familiar/AC. IT gets the powers as if you were 4 levels higher, you as the caster are not boosted by 4 levels to determine what familiar you can take.


Dr Grecko wrote:
That's a tough one to calculate. It's the separatist archetype that is limiting your cleric level, so I would say the level of familiar you can select with improved familiar is based off of that.. The boon companion feat would then increase the abilities of that familiar to the full level.

How does the cleric have any arcane spellcaster level at all?


VRMH, that would mean the caster could do the touching himself since he would have to be right next to the ally. Remember, you cannot designate the familiar as the toucher unless it is next to you.

- Gauss


Grick is correct, a strict reading of Improved Familiar means that non-arcanists are not allowed to take it. However, many people either overlook this or house rule it to mean the Master's class level in the class that grants the familiar. I use the latter but I do admit it is a house rule.

- Gauss


Gauss wrote:

Grick is correct, a strict reading of Improved Familiar means that non-arcanists are not allowed to take it. However, many people either overlook this or house rule it to mean the Master's class level in the class that grants the familiar. I use the latter but I do admit it is a house rule.

- Gauss

I'm not so sure, the eagle domain says your druid level is your effective wizard level, so you are essentially mimicking a wizards arcane spellcaster level. I would allow it, and not 100% sure a houserule is even necessary. In a way, you are a cleric mimicking a druid who mimics a wizard.

However, the Eagle Domain specifically limits you to a hawk familiar. I would argue that you're stuck with that choice, or possibly a Celestial Hawk if one allows Improved familiar.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

I'm not looking to get an improved familiar for this character. The hawk is fine.

Looking over the Valet Familiar archetype, it says at 3rd level the familiar can move/touch/move, so long as its total movement "does not exceed its speed". I assume that means "only a single move"?

Hmm. Not only does the archetype suck, but I'm thinking it answers my original question simply by its existence.


Nefreet, be careful about abilities which define rules via existence. There have been a couple of abilities that were clearly and completely pointless. One example: Prone Shooter (pre-FAQ) which gave you the ability to shoot a crossbow or gun while prone. An 'ability' which was already clearly spelled out as being available to any crossbow or gun user.

- Gauss

Scarab Sages

Nefreet wrote:

I'm not looking to get an improved familiar for this character. The hawk is fine.

Looking over the Valet Familiar archetype, it says at 3rd level the familiar can move/touch/move, so long as its total movement "does not exceed its speed". I assume that means "only a single move"?

Hmm. Not only does the archetype suck, but I'm thinking it answers my original question simply by its existence.

Since you can move your speed with a move action, yes, that's what I meant by a single move.

There are some interesting things in the archetype. Namely Cooperative Crafting. You essentially cut your crafting times in half by having your familiar help you, and the familiar is considered to have all your crafting feats. If you're going the crafting route that's a pretty amazing boost. The aid another and spring touch spell stuff is less exciting, for sure. It produces some interesting/odd situations, like a toad/hawk/fox/whatever helping craft a magic item.

Sovereign Court

A Lesser Meta-magic Rod of Reach Spell? Oh those go for about 3k gold. Very affordable. What was this thread about again? ;)

More seriously though given that combat can be kind of nebulous it seems disingenuous to both want the familiar to have it's own action economy but then also benefit from the free touch delivery for a standard action someone else used.

That said the line "The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master would" from the description of the ability would make me think that it would indeed be a free touch as otherwise that sentence serves no real purpose in the description of deliver touch spell.

If it was a PFS game I suppose I'd have to allow it. In a home game I'd probably throw dice at you.


Morgen, I think the 'just as the master would' is there to indicate that it becomes the toucher. Extending that to meaning its a free action to touch in the round the Master cast the spell is still questionable since, the familiar did not cast the spell. In this case, I think it can be read either way.

CRB p185 wrote:
In the same round that you cast the spell, you may also touch (or attempt to touch) as a free action. You may take your move before casting the spell, after touching the target, or between casting the spell and touching the target.
CRB p83 wrote:
If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a touch spell, he can designate his familiar as the “toucher.” The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master would.

Argument: The familiar did not cast the spell.

Counter-argument: The master in that round can deliver the touch with a free action and thus the quote from p83 should allow the familiar to do so.

Problem with the counter-argument. It does not state that explicitly. Additionally, an archetype specifically allows the move-touch-move sequence. (Note: that is not conclusive, just a bit of weight.)

Ultimately, it is a major question that is not clear in either case. Probably worthy of a FAQ.

- Gauss


Other argument for faster touching:

A held touch spell automatically goes off at anything you touch.

so if Merlin casts mage armor, and then his raven double moves to land on another party members shoulder POOF, it goes off.


BigNorseWolf, that type of argument can be applied to any creature. I double move and run into my ally 'poof' it goes off. Such an action isn't within the rules.

- Gauss


Gauss wrote:

BigNorseWolf, that type of argument can be applied to any creature. I double move and run into my ally 'poof' it goes off. Such an action isn't within the rules.

- Gauss

It is. your example isn't used much because usually you use your standard action to cast so you can't double move that round.

The thing is there's no raw answer as to what kind of action delivering a touch spell when you don't do it in the same round as casting: we only know you can do it as an attack or as an attack of opportunity.


BNW, you're responding to his post "Such an action isn't within the rules."
with: "It is... There is no RAW answer as to what kind of action delivering a touch spell [is] when you don't...".
So, you're contradicting him... to say the exact same thing? ;-)

I hit FAQ because it doesn't seem sufficiently clear one way or another.


BigNorseWolf:

The rules are clear on what action it takes to intentionally discharge a spell the round after it has been cast on a friendly person: Standard action or, in the case of multiple targets, a full-round action.

CRB p186 wrote:
You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action.

- Gauss


Quandary wrote:

BNW, you're responding to his post "Such an action isn't within the rules."

with: "It is... There is no RAW answer as to what kind of action delivering a touch spell [is] when you don't...".
So, you're contradicting him... to say the exact same thing? ;-)

Not really. He's saying I'm cheating. I say there ain't no rule against it (which only MIGHT be cheating- theres a difference)


Gauss wrote:

BigNorseWolf:

The rules are clear on what action it takes to intentionally discharge a spell the round after it has been cast on a friendly person: Standard action or, in the case of multiple targets, a full-round action.

CRB p186 wrote:
You can touch one friend as a standard action or up to six friends as a full-round action.
- Gauss

The next few paragraphs make things a little greyer.

Holding the Charge: If you don't discharge the spell in the round when you cast the spell, you can hold the charge indefinitely. You can continue to make touch attacks round after round. If you touch anything or anyone while holding a charge, even unintentionally, the spell discharges.

- Now you're right that there might be a problem for your double moving wizard because he has no mechanism to touch someone. But the raven can move into his square.

Alternatively, you may make a normal unarmed attack (or an attack with a natural weapon) while holding a charge.

- This could be used to make a charge attack against an ally to get them a spell. - so he might be able to charge

If the attack hits, you deal normal damage for your unarmed attack or natural weapon and the spell discharges. If the attack misses, you are still holding the charge.

- so you land an uppercut... for 1d3-1 damage that adds mage armor


BigNorseWolf, at no point did I state you were cheating. This is a rules forum. It is here for discussions regarding the rules.

Pathfinder is built around rules enabling things. Without the rule to enable something it is either against the rules or requires GM Fiat. In either case that is a non-starter in a rules forum. Your suggestion was outside the rules and thus not relevant to the debate except to say there is no rule to cover it or it is a grey area.

The next few paragraphs you posted are not making things greyer. It is certainly an option to make a charge attack to deliver an attack and thus a touch spell. I was discussing touching an ally, not touching an enemy. For the purposes of an attack your example is treating an ally as an enemy and thus following that set of rules (see Options 3 and 4 below). BTW, my example of a wizard taking a double move and not being able to deliver is still applicable when he cannot charge.

Option 1: Free action to touch or make an attack during the round it was cast.
Option 2a: Standard action to touch a friendly creature in successive rounds after the spell was cast.
Option 2b: Full-round action to touch up to 6 friendly creatures in successive rounds after the spell was cast.
Option 3: Make a touch attack (standard or full round action) to touch a non-friendly creature in successive rounds after the spell was cast.
Option 4: Make a regular attack (standard or full round action) to touch a non-friendly creature in successive rounds after the spell was cast and dish out either unarmed or natural weapon damage also.

Grey areas:
1: Can a familiar deliver a touch attack as a free action in the same round the Master cast it?
2: Can you 'accidentally' discharge a spell (for gain) using other than a Free, Standard, or Full-round action? Example: picking up a sword as a move action and discharging a Magic Weapon spell into it.

These grey areas need to be resolved.

- Gauss


Gauss wrote:
BigNorseWolf, at no point did I state you were cheating. This is a rules forum. It is here for discussions regarding the rules.

I knew i should have put in the smiley..

Quote:
Pathfinder is built around rules enabling things. Without the rule to enable something it is either against the rules or requires GM Fiat.

Your character dies from constipation.

Quote:

In either case that is a non-starter in a rules forum.

Your suggestion was outside the rules and thus not relevant to the debate except to say there is no rule to cover it or it is a grey area.

Without a specific rule against something it usually defaults to real life or common sense. Examples You fall down when you die. You cannot stay awake for 7 weeks strait. You cannot use handle animal on someone else's attack dog to make it attack its owner. Its an inherent part of rules interpretation.

There's no listed action to land on someone but its probably a non action. Landing on someone by raw could set the spell off.

Quote:
The next few paragraphs you posted are not making things greyer. It is certainly an option to make a charge attack to deliver an attack and thus a touch spell. I was discussing touching an ally, not touching an enemy.

You can charge your friends too. I've had to bull rush and reposition allies on occasion.

Grey areas:
1: Can a familiar deliver a touch attack as a free action in the same round the Master cast it?
2: Can you 'accidentally' discharge a spell (for gain) using other than a Free, Standard, or Full-round action? Example: picking up a sword as a move action and discharging a Magic Weapon spell into it.

2 doesn't even seem grey. It says point blank if you touch something the spell goes off.


Nefreet wrote:

Say I'm a 5th level Cleric with a tiny-sized Familiar.

A) Move adjacent to my ally, touch him as a free action, and move back to me?

...or does it...

B) Move adjacent to my ally and touch him as a standard action?

Neither.

A tiny creature has 0' reach. He would have to enter your ally's square.

For what it's worth, Skip Williams' old Rules of Game (3.5) article said the familiar used an action to deliver a touch spell. The wording hasn't changed since then.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

The part you left out during your cut & paste was, "I've also taken the Evolved Familiar feat, granting it reach, so it doesn't have to move into someone's square to touch them."

Thanks for the info on Skip Williams, though. With the ambiguity in the CRB and the addition of the Valet archetype I'm leaning towards B now. Feel free to click the FAQ anyways and maybe we'll get it finalized.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
2 doesn't even seem grey. It says point blank if you touch something the spell goes off.

You're literally ignoring this:

Gauss wrote:
Option 2a: Standard action to touch a friendly creature in successive rounds after the spell was cast.

to say that you should be allowed to intentionally "unintentionally" discharge a spell. What you're pushing is not just a matter of RAW interpretation, it's literally saying that you don't care what RAW says, you're doing it anyway. That's pure, unmitigated House Rule talk.

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