Improved familiar for a neutral wizard


Rules Questions

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Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Whale_Cancer wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
Elzedar of Kyonin wrote:
So, as a neutral wizard, my understanding is that I can get the Azata, because that is one step toward chaotic, and one step toward good and I am allowed one step of each types.
That's not how the "one step" rule works. "One step" means in either alignment direction, not both. So a NG or a CN character would be one step away from CG; a TN character is one step away from NG, LN, CN, and NE.
The text quoted in OP says "one step away on each alignment axis"; the plain English understanding of this is that - barring other restrictions - a N caster can get any familiar.

It means you have to be able to make the alignment requirements in one step, you can make that step either along the updown or left right, but if you can't make that requirement in one step, then it's a no go.

Sczarni

LazarX wrote:
Whale_Cancer wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
Elzedar of Kyonin wrote:
So, as a neutral wizard, my understanding is that I can get the Azata, because that is one step toward chaotic, and one step toward good and I am allowed one step of each types.
That's not how the "one step" rule works. "One step" means in either alignment direction, not both. So a NG or a CN character would be one step away from CG; a TN character is one step away from NG, LN, CN, and NE.
The text quoted in OP says "one step away on each alignment axis"; the plain English understanding of this is that - barring other restrictions - a N caster can get any familiar.
It means you have to be able to make the alignment requirements in one step, you can make that step either along the updown or left right, but if you can't make that requirement in one step, then it's a no go.

By your statement a LG caster could not select a N dire rat as a familiar. I don't see why any caster would have a problem with a neutral familiar. Another example would be an elemental. They are neutral also.

Familiars are not deities. They are servants of the caster. I use servant loosely in the case of devils and demons, who will probably consume the casters soul upon death. That being said the familiar doesn't have to be perfectly in line with a casters ideals, it just needs to be willing to serve them.

I disagree with your interpretation of the step rule. It is not the same as the cleric deity rule.

Shadow Lodge

LazarX wrote:
Whale_Cancer wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
Elzedar of Kyonin wrote:
So, as a neutral wizard, my understanding is that I can get the Azata, because that is one step toward chaotic, and one step toward good and I am allowed one step of each types.
That's not how the "one step" rule works. "One step" means in either alignment direction, not both. So a NG or a CN character would be one step away from CG; a TN character is one step away from NG, LN, CN, and NE.
The text quoted in OP says "one step away on each alignment axis"; the plain English understanding of this is that - barring other restrictions - a N caster can get any familiar.
It means you have to be able to make the alignment requirements in one step, you can make that step either along the updown or left right, but if you can't make that requirement in one step, then it's a no go.

Each does not mean either. Saying that you can go one step in each direction (what is written) is much different than saying you can go one step in either direction (what you propose).

Sczarni

From the cleric entry:

Alignment: A cleric's alignment must be within one step of her deity's, along EITHER the law/chaos axis or the good/evil axis (see Additional Rules).

From the IF entry:

Benefit: When choosing a familiar, the creatures listed below are also available to you. You may choose a familiar with an alignment up to one step away on EACH alignment axis (lawful through chaotic, good through evil).

I'm sorry but either and each do not mean the same thing. And the cleric entry does say "within one step" the familiar entry does not.


matthew thomson wrote:
Faire dragons are different and the require a boon granting them if I'm not mistaken.

In PFS they require a Boon, because they are not among the 'normally allowed material'. In normal RAW play they do not require a Boon, just the GM decision to allow that material in the game, if it's legal in the game, then it's a legal Improved Familiar choice by default.

jlighter wrote:
Is that indicating TN only, or any Neutral alignment?

Pathfinder does not use "True Neutral":

Core Rulebook, Getting Started: Alignment wrote:
Creatures that are neutral in both components are denoted by a single “N.” [or as "Neutral" alone with no qualifiers]

"Any Neutral" is referred to as exactly that when the rules want to indicate that, e.g. Druids' Alignment Req: "Any Neutral".

matthew thompson wrote:
Also, ultimate magic was written after (I believe, correct me if I am wrong) bestiary 2 where the lyrakian entry is. So then does the updated IF list loosen the restrictions, and expand the familiar choices for spell casters, or does it simply increase the feats choices with existing restrictions in place. I am arguing that in the case of ambiguous entries, such as the lyrakian, the greater choice allowed by the expanded IF list would win.

Well, I would agree it comes down to that. If there is some ambiguity, I am inclined NOT to read Ult Magic as being 'Stealth Errata', because Errata by definition should be exact, and the rules for certain Familiars changing between their Bestiary introduction and Ult Magic is kind of big deal.

There is also the variation of wording re: "must" which isn't necessarily a crucial grammatical distinction in itself (e.g. between Arbiter and Lyrakien, the lack of 'must' in Lyrakien doesn't necessarily indicate a difference vs. Arbiter, even though Arbiter's wording is ever more clear that you "must" fulfill that requirement). But that non-distinction also carries over to the UM Updated Improved Familiar List, which lists even the "must be LN" Arbiter alongside others, with no special notation. Rules that say "must be XYZ" should only be over-ruled if very explicitly over-ruled, yet that just wasn't done here, and the treatment of Arbiter/Lyrakien is identical here. It seems more than plausible that the editor of that Table in UM just didn't realize that some of the creatures had further specific restrictions in their text that the original Improved Familiar Table format simply didn't envision, and didn't modify the format for the new restrictions.

Quote:
I disagree with your interpretation of the step rule. It is not the same as the cleric deity rule.

I agree the Familiar rules is definitely not the same as the standard Alignment Step rule.

Re: why certain Familiars may be barred to certain casters, rather than viewing it as a personal decision of the Familiar,
the simplest approach is viewing it as a limit of the calling ritual bonding a Familiar and granting the creature Familiar abilities.
But the fluff ultimately doesn't impact the RAW, however you want to imagine the fluff just needs to be in line with the RAW.

I really hope Paizo address this when they decompress from GenCon, whichever way you believe or prefer, it seems clear that there is some bad editing in play that deserves Errata/FAQ.

Sczarni

I agree Quandary,

However since it is a feat. Thus meaning being able to do something extraordinary. Would it allow the caster to pick a familiar they wouldn't normally be able to?

It is a conflicting set of rules. And I'm not saying that they are trying to trump each others rules. I do believe a clarification is in order. Otherwise it would come down to a GM making a ruling at table.

And I do play in society. The original poster does too. We began this conversation on FB and he wanted to get some feedback from the boards.

Shadow Lodge

LazarX wrote:
Whale_Cancer wrote:
Weirdo wrote:
That's not how the "one step" rule works. "One step" means in either alignment direction, not both. So a NG or a CN character would be one step away from CG; a TN character is one step away from NG, LN, CN, and NE.
The text quoted in OP says "one step away on each alignment axis"; the plain English understanding of this is that - barring other restrictions - a N caster can get any familiar.
It means you have to be able to make the alignment requirements in one step, you can make that step either along the updown or left right, but if you can't make that requirement in one step, then it's a no go.

That is the case for most cases of the one step rule, but Whale_Cancer is correct that I overlooked the word "each" in Improved Familiar, which alters the one-step rule into more of an "alignment can't be opposed on any axis" rule.

Quandary wrote:
It seems more than plausible that the editor of that Table in UM just didn't realize that some of the creatures had further specific restrictions in their text that the original Improved Familiar Table format simply didn't envision, and didn't modify the format for the new restrictions.

That also seems plausible, but if the editor didn't realize that half of the extended familiars seem to have more specific restrictions, that speaks to a lack of co-ordination. Maybe the devs need to take a second look at whether they actually want all these exceptions? Or rethink the exceptions to be more consistent - such as "to select a familiar with an alignment subtype, you must have the alignment corresponding to the familiar's subtype/s."

Shadow Lodge

Just adding something in. There are conflicting wording uses within Bestiary 2. The Arbiter, Lyrakien, and Cacodaemon are all from that book, and each has a different wording. Cacodaemon's clearly fall under the general rule, and so can't serve good casters. Lyrakien and Voidworm (same book) have the same wording. It's possible that the Arbiter and the Lyrakien/Voidworm were written by different authors, and so the differing wordings were used, but the indication was intended to be the same.

As far as UM trumping Bestiary 2, there's nothing in that table to say that it does. It does have a notation to see the creature in Bestiary 2, which to my mind indicates that the rules presented in Bestiary 2 are still in effect. They are merely on the list in UM to indicate, "By the way. Improved Familiar now grants access to these familiars, too, with normal rules for them." You'll note that the Extraordinary thing is that they can be summoned as familiars at all. A caster without IF, no matter what alignment, can never summon a Lyrakien familiar. Same as they can't summon an Elemental/Dire Rat/Celestial/Imp familiar. IF merely opens up new options to the normal familiar list. It doesn't remove any normal rules from those creatures.

A clarification on this issue would be nice. Hitting the FAQ button will make it that much more likely that we'll get a clarification somewhere down the line, especially if we can break threshold to get it in the queue.


mdt wrote:

The Azata has a specific restriction on it, specific overrides general. So, although the feat doesn't care, the Azata does. So no, you can't get the Azata.

Sorry.

This seems absolutely clear and not requiring of a faq.

Shadow Lodge

7 people marked this as FAQ candidate. 1 person marked this as a favorite.
Lord Pendragon wrote:
mdt wrote:

The Azata has a specific restriction on it, specific overrides general. So, although the feat doesn't care, the Azata does. So no, you can't get the Azata.

Sorry.

This seems absolutely clear and not requiring of a faq.

The clarification would be nice because their are several wordings in play:

  • A chaotic good 7th-level spellcaster can gain a lyrakien as a familiar if she has the Improved Familiar feat.
  • An arbiter inevitable can serve a spellcaster as a familiar. Such a spellcaster must be lawful neutral, must be at least caster level 7th, and must have the Improved Familiar feat.
  • You may choose a familiar with an alignment up to one step away on each alignment axis (lawful through chaotic, good through evil).

    It's unclear where the final rule is. Does the presence of Lyrakiens on the IF list mean the alignment rule reverts to the normal IF rule, or does the specific alignment requirement trump? Does the Lyrakien alignment wording work as a hard restriction, or is it a recommendation with the Arbiter wording being the hard restriction?

  • Shadow Lodge RPG Superstar 2010 Top 8

    For the sake of simplicity, I allow casters to take familiars within one step of their alignment, the specific text from the feat or bestiary entries be damned.

    For me it falls under the idea that rules should either be the same, or different (something I think Jonathan Tweet said? Unsure of the attribution). That is, if you're going to limit access to things based on aliignment, they should all work the same (one step for deities, one step for cohorts, one step for familiars) or the rules should be different enough that they wont be confused or mixed up (one step for deities, exact match for familiars)

    Having one step on either axis for some things, and one step on each axis for other things isn't different enough, and forces me (or more accurately, a new player) to look up which is which whenever those things come up. Ditto for having some familiars be available to multiple alignments and other familiars be available only to certain alignments.


    I pretty much agree with that. If it's truly important enough that one case work SLIGHTLY different from but still rather similar to the normal rule, e.g. Alignment Steps, and going by the normal rule would just be horrible, OK, but it must be made crystal clear and re-enforced that a different usage is being applied. Although, as JLighter wrote, instead of going with a slightly mutated version of the standard rule, a similar outcome could be achieved by wording things from an entirely different grammatic perspective, i.e. 'you cannot have the opposite alignment component of a familiar you want to bond', which doesn't confuse things with alternate definitions of steps but has the same result otherwise.

    The issue with the wording of the Familiars themselves, and whether or not UM's updated table changes the rules for them or not is an issue of not being clear about exceptions, which may very well be because the issue wasn't caught in editing. That said, the RAW is not so off that a simple FAQ shouldn't be fine to clear things up, although I hope it also addresses the minor variances in wording between some of these familiars that have been mentioned (Inevitable vs. Lyrakien, mentioning or not mentioning 'must')


    jlighter wrote:
    Does the presence of Lyrakiens on the IF list mean the alignment rule reverts to the normal IF rule, or does the specific alignment requirement trump?

    I just don't see the ambiguity. As was mentioned, the specific trumps the general. In general, IF defines what you can choose. Under the specific familiar entry, the Lyrakien, it states that in this case, no, you need to be something in particular. So that's it.

    Sometimes I think we (and I include myself in this at times, :p) look for things to be confused about.


    But it doesn't state that under Lyrakien. Lyrakien just says being of CG alignment qualifies you take it as a Familiar if you have Improved Familiar. It doesn't say other alignments can't take it. They simply can't take it unless they have another valid mechanic enabling them to do so. With the expanded Improved Familiar list, Lyrakiens are recognized as a Familiar inherently available via that Feat, and nothing indicates that the general rule doesn't apply to Lyrakiens, thus a valid mechanic enabling them to be chosen per the general rule.

    As brought up, Inevitables have more exclusive wording using "only", which is more plausible a reason to over-ride the general rule. But without that, there is no more restrictive rule over-riding the general rule in the case of Lyrakien and similar.


    Quandary wrote:
    But it doesn't state that under Lyrakien. Lyrakien just says being of CG alignment qualifies you take it as a Familiar if you have Improved Familiar.

    Let me see if I have this correct.

    At one point, the Improved Familiar feat first came out, and the Lyrakien was not on the list of improved familiars. The listing of the Lyrakien stated however that CG casters could choose it, if they had said feat.

    Then at some point later, the Improved Familiar list was expanded to include the Lyrakien.

    Do I have this right?

    Shadow Lodge

    That is correct.

    Thus provoking the confusion over whether the addition of the Lyrakien to the IF list means the previous Lyrakien rule applies, or has adding it to the IF list changed the rule to the normal IF rule.


    jlighter wrote:

    That is correct.

    Thus provoking the confusion over whether the addition of the Lyrakien to the IF list means the previous Lyrakien rule applies, or has adding it to the IF list changed the rule to the normal IF rule.

    I withdraw my previous statement. I can now see the ambiguity. It was clear as originally written, but adding it directly to the IF list at a later date calls their intent into question. Why add it to the list if they didn't intend to change something? If it were merely for completion's sake, you'd think a (if CG) addendum would have been appropriate...

    Ugh.


    Exactly. Ugh. I personally think that the Familiar's own description is the intent, if nothing else because changing how they work doesn't make sense to do without stating so more explicitly, but the way the UM table was implemented doesn't leave that as the 100% clear, un-ambiguous ruling, and many players may very well first discover those Familiars via the UM table.


    Why has nobody hit the FAQ button yet? Also, people probably should use houserules if the official rules aren't clear enough...


    Icyshadow wrote:
    Why has nobody hit the FAQ button yet? Also, people probably should use houserules if the official rules aren't clear enough...

    Well, the feat Improved Familiar adds a limited list of creatures to your choices for a familiar with some restrictions to level and alignment. If a creature outside that list(eg. Lyrakien) allows you to choose it for a familiar if certain prerequisites are met, then you need to meet those specific prerequisites. Regardless of what any of those individual prereqsites might say about anything else, eg. alignment restrictions for other familiars.

    Also if two sets of restrictions are in effect, then both should be met, ie. the strictest, and since these two sets don't contradict, the strictest is still to be met.

    That is why I - personally - haven't "hit the FAQ button yet"; because I don't think this requires the developers' attention.

    Should others feel the need to do so, and the developers decide to do a FAQ-update on this subject contradicting my interpretation, then I will happily review their clarifications.


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    I would say that "a CG caster can take X as a familiar" is an example of another textual analysis tool: "The exception proves the rule."

    Stating a thing implies that, if you hadn't said it, it wouldn't be true. Which means that it implies that similar unstated things still aren't true.

    So, given no wording about familiars at all, the rule is: This creature cannot be a familiar, whether you have improved familiar or not.

    If a creature specifically says it can be taken as a familiar, it defaults to following the improved familiar rules -- must be within one step on each axis. Neutral can have anything, good can have good or neutral but not evil, lawful can have lawful or neutral but not chaotic.

    If it says anything about alignment, though, that is implied to trump the generic rules. If it says a CG caster can, then that implies that non-CG casters can't. If an entry said that a caster of any alignment could have a given thing as a familiar, that would trump the normal rules on alignment matching. And if it just says "a caster", then it uses the default rules.

    So I think it's pretty clear in context that some creatures which are added to the Improved Familiar list by their bestiary entries are intended to use the standard alignment restrictions, and that a creature which says something specific about alignment matching is intended to impose different restrictions.

    Shadow Lodge

    seebs wrote:

    I would say that "a CG caster can take X as a familiar" is an example of another textual analysis tool: "The exception proves the rule."

    Stating a thing implies that, if you hadn't said it, it wouldn't be true. Which means that it implies that similar unstated things still aren't true.

    So, given no wording about familiars at all, the rule is: This creature cannot be a familiar, whether you have improved familiar or not.

    If a creature specifically says it can be taken as a familiar, it defaults to following the improved familiar rules -- must be within one step on each axis. Neutral can have anything, good can have good or neutral but not evil, lawful can have lawful or neutral but not chaotic.

    If it says anything about alignment, though, that is implied to trump the generic rules. If it says a CG caster can, then that implies that non-CG casters can't. If an entry said that a caster of any alignment could have a given thing as a familiar, that would trump the normal rules on alignment matching. And if it just says "a caster", then it uses the default rules.

    So I think it's pretty clear in context that some creatures which are added to the Improved Familiar list by their bestiary entries are intended to use the standard alignment restrictions, and that a creature which says something specific about alignment matching is intended to impose different restrictions.

    +11 this


    seebs, I agree with you and that's how I'd currently rule, but this thread has convinced me there's enough ambiguity that a faq request is not unwarranted. I clicked on it.


    I want to bring to you attention another familiar, the Imp (Devil).

    Bestiary p.78 wrote:
    An imp consular can be summoned via the Improved Familiar feat, but only by a spellcaster of 8th level or higher.

    But

    Core Rulebook p.127 wrote:

    Improved Familiar

    Familiar: Imp
    Alignment: Lawful Evil
    Arcane Spellcaster Level: 7th

    So, now, which source is the one to consider? In case of the Core, will not be the same for the Lyrakien, with the Core ruling over the Bestiary, and with a Neutral Wizard allowed to take the Lyrakien as familiar?

    Dòm


    Dòm: those are imp consulars, which count for 1/1000th of imps and can take the form of animals and use telepathy. Regular imps require caster level 7th.

    You consider CCB for regular imps, and Bestiary for imp consulars.


    The 1-step (incl. diagonals) Alignment rule would apply to Imp Consulars, the line isn't saying ANY 8th level spellcaster can bond with them, it is just giving another requirement that doesn't replace, but rather, compounds existing requirements ("...via the Improved Familiar Feat"). So they work the same as normal Imps as far as Alignment is concerned, they just have a higher required spellcaster level.

    Shadow Lodge

    Quandary, the rule isn't 1-step (including diagonals). The rule is one step on each axis. A diagonal step is two steps. Just throwing out a clarification, because it does matter for certain familiars.


    one step on each axis is functionally equivalent to one (possibly) diagonal step.
    LE->LN->N vs. LE->N
    NE->N->LN vs. NE->LN
    etc.
    Sorry if my terminology there was confusing for anybody.

    Dark Archive

    Talk to your DM.
    The DM may overrule whatever he wants.
    Offer to a quest for the familiar.

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