PFS-Legal Familiar Build Question


Pathfinder Society


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Howdy! I'm attempting to build a valet familiar that can take advantage of the flyby aid another feature. Here's the scenario I want to cover:

Most familiars are tiny or smaller, meaning that to use aid another in combat they have to enter the square of their target (to make a melee attack) and thus provoke attacks of opportunity. An approved improved familiar (brownie, faerie dragon, imp, lyrakien azata, mephit, quasit, and sprite) can be given a *tiny* whip, which has a 10' reach at that size. Imps, lyrakiens, mephits, and quasit familiars can get proficiency for this whip using a Cracked Opalescent Pyramid Ioun Stone (they are proficient with martial weapons), and the others can get this proficiency with a normal opalescent pyramid (at a hideously expensive price for the privilege). This means they can make aid another attempts at 10' AND use the flyby-aid feature of the valet without provoking those nasty attacks of opportunity. Heaven forbid you try this with an animal familiar at home.

My problem is that none of the good-aligned familiars get Weapon Finesse. The requirement of Weapon Finesse limits the cheaper build to imps and quasits - both creatures of dubious character, neither of whom I'm inclined to give a whip, and both invalid improved familiar choices for good characters. If you can shell out 10,000 gold for the better stone you can add other familiars, but that's a serious opportunity cost for the alignment choice.

My question is this - is there a way in Pathfinder Society to get Weapon Finesse onto a familiar whose base form does not possess it? The familiar's normal feature that adds dexterity to attacks only applies to natural attacks, which will trigger attacks of opportunity. A normal reach weapon isn't ideal for any of these creatures due to their poor strength scores (although an imp with a ranseur is neat). Just to reiterate, this would not be as big a problem if I weren't limited to good/neutral familiars.


If you possess animal archive, you can swap out feats on your familiar 1 for 1 when you first get them.


Sitri wrote:
If you possess animal archive, you can swap out feats on your familiar 1 for 1 when you first get them.

RAW - Only the approved feats listed in the animal archive itself. You can't swap in Weapon Finesse since it's not listed there. That would be a relatively painless thing if it were legal.

Brownies (the only valid choice for good characters under the 10,000 gp build) get Weapon Finesse, but they can't fly and have drastically inferior move speed to boot.


The 'Evolved Familiar' feat allows you to choose a 1-point evolution for your familiar, and one of the options is to increase the reach of a single melee attack by 5'. I used this method to give my (Tiny) Greensting Scorpion familiar 5' reach with its tail attack.


That's one way to do it Bigrin - another feat on my wizard gets pretty screwy though when there's only 2 slots left (9 and 11). It's pretty expensive for 5' of reach when you can just get a tiny weapon and eat the attack penalty (we're still talking AC:10 here). Not to mention that you may still have issues with attacks of opportunity at 5' depending on how circumstances are set up.

My gut tells me using Evolved Familiar in this build is mutually exclusive with Improved Familiar - there's other feats I have to pick up to stay on the power curve.


well depending on which improved familiar you wanted to get and why, you could just use a different evolution. if you wanted a wand familiar that needs UMD you can use the evolution to give it a +8 racial bonus.


I'm looking for an improved familiar that can use a whip, has weapon finesse, is a valid choice for good characters, is more manueverable than a brownie, tiny-sized, and doesn't require an extra 8000 gp to kit.

In a non-PFS game I'd just get leadership, but that's not an option either.

Dark Archive

There isn't one Jokon, for the very reasons that you want one.

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Pay extra and make a Homunculus with custom feats. You can give it Exotic Proficiency and Weapon Finesse. It's even legal via the FAQ.


I will answer the OP's question without answering his question.

Get a Pseudodragon. Not a Faery Dragon. Tiny with 5' reach on Tail, which could be all you need.
If you want you can take Evolved Familiar to get extra Reach for 10',
OR you use Enlarge Person to increase the Familiar to Small and the Reach should also increase to 10'.
Possibly Paragon Surge could be used to grant it the Lunge Feat, although that is very cheesy ESPECIALLY if you are not a Half-Elf yourself.
I think just the base 5' will work well enough for minimal functionality, although more Reach is nice for being able evade AoEs, etc.
(if you have maxed Ranks in Acrobatics, the Familiars should be at least half-decent at that, and you're not worse off for trying)

Or use a Small Size Familiar (Goat, Pig) with natural 5' reach for the same, although it probably won't Fly naturally.

And forget the Whip, Longspear is a Simple Weapon with Reach. Not AS MUCH Reach as a Whip, but good enough to work.
Yes, it's not a Finesse Weapon.
But Aid Another only needs to hit DC10, and if you're also threatening the target (for AA to work) there's a decent chance you're Flanking.
If you can set up a Flank, then even if they fail DC10 then they still grant a +2 Flanking bonus.

Silver Crusade 4/5

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Jokon Yew wrote:

That's one way to do it Bigrin - another feat on my wizard gets pretty screwy though when there's only 2 slots left (9 and 11). It's pretty expensive for 5' of reach when you can just get a tiny weapon and eat the attack penalty (we're still talking AC:10 here). Not to mention that you may still have issues with attacks of opportunity at 5' depending on how circumstances are set up.

My gut tells me using Evolved Familiar in this build is mutually exclusive with Improved Familiar - there's other feats I have to pick up to stay on the power curve.

Sounds like you need to get a pet/eidolon companion class not a familiar companion class.


The homunculus idea is pretty good. Do the custom feats come with normal HD scaling? The critter wouldn't get any bonus HP due to being a familiar, and it'd cost 12k to get up to 5 HD (for two feats), but that would fit the bill I've written.

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It's only 6050gp, since you only need it to be 3HD (2050gp initial cost + 4000gp for one extra hit die). Its first feat at 1HD would be Weapon Finesse and its second feat at 3HD would be Exotic Proficiency (Whip).

It's custom. You're not adding feats to the example in the Bestiary. You even get to decide its skill ranks. Its stats are set, but if you pay a total of 10,050gp to make it 4HD it would get +1 to a stat of your choice (I'd recommend Dex).

Plus, if you're an artist, you can come up with your own rendition to show off at games. I had a Wizard in a home game make one, once, and I've always wanted to do it again for Society. Have fun with it!


If you are going the Valet route, I really recommend picking up Escape Route, as it can save a lot of headaches and heartaches when it comes to avoiding movement AoO's. Yes it's another feat, but the added mobility offered to both Master and familiar are amazing, especially as it works off of adjacency, not reach.

Other than the homunculus there is also a possibility to take a regular animal familiar and use Share Spells to cast Anthropomorphic Animal on it. Toss your Ioun Stone in a Wayfinder and you're set, though you'd need at least a Flawed Opalescent White Pyramid, the Cracked only grants Weapon Familiarity, not proficiency. Which means you could probably get the setup done by 5th level, though the Familiar doesn't get the 'flyby' aid ability until 7th anyway. You lose all but land speed, so Escape Route is still an excellent option for mobility, or magic flight might do the trick as well. You are dropping a 3rd level spell to do this, but it lasts hours/level, and frees up a feat slot.

Share Spells:
The wizard may cast a spell with a target of “You” on his familiar (as a touch spell) instead of on himself. A wizard may cast spells on his familiar even if the spells do not normally affect creatures of the familiar's type (magical beast).

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Lieutenant, Florida—Jacksonville aka Baronjett

Interesting Tumskunde, I didn't realize you could enlarge your familiar.

I wonder if a Tiefling Wizard could cast Enlarge spell on his familiar with Share Spells?, even though he can't cast it on himself.

Scarab Sages

Bah, enlarged? Thinking too small. Toss some Monstrous Physique spells to spice things up.


I forgot that you could also use Bestow Weapon Proficiency to give your familiar proficiency with a whip for a short time. And you can get a wand of it, of you want.

I mentioned Anthropomorphic Animal due to it's hours/level duration, other polymorphic spells could fit the bill, though the durations are shorter. Anyway, I figured I'd try and list what I can recall. Gonna list them at the level you first get it and ignore the upgraded versions of the spells.

1st Level
Enlarge Person
Reduce Person
2nd Level
Alter Self
Animal Aspect - Monkey gives Throw Anything to a 'handed' Familiar
3rd Level
Anthropomorphic Animal
Beast Shape
Monstrous Physique
Undead Anatomy
4th Level
Elemental Body
Vermin Shape
5th Level
Animal Growth
Plant Shape
Polymorph
6th Level
Fluid Form
Form of Dragon
Transformation
7th Level
Giant Form
Ice Body
8th Level
Frightful Aspect
Iron Body
9th Level
Fiery Body
Shapechange

So a lot of choice, I know those over level 6 probably won't get used by most, but there may be a few higher level characters that might want to cause some familiar shenanigans.
For those that worry about their familiars kicking it, The False Life line of spells are nice for adding a buffer to them, and yourself.

Dark Archive

Tumskunde wrote:

I forgot that you could also use Bestow Weapon Proficiency to give your familiar proficiency with a whip for a short time. And you can get a wand of it, of you want.

I mentioned Anthropomorphic Animal due to it's hours/level duration, other polymorphic spells could fit the bill, though the durations are shorter. Anyway, I figured I'd try and list what I can recall. Gonna list them at the level you first get it and ignore the upgraded versions of the spells.

1st Level
Enlarge Person
Reduce Person
2nd Level
Alter Self
Animal Aspect - Monkey gives Throw Anything to a 'handed' Familiar
3rd Level
Anthropomorphic Animal
Beast Shape
Monstrous Physique
Undead Anatomy
4th Level
Elemental Body
Vermin Shape
5th Level
Animal Growth
Plant Shape
Polymorph
6th Level
Fluid Form
Form of Dragon
Transformation
7th Level
Giant Form
Ice Body
8th Level
Frightful Aspect
Iron Body
9th Level
Fiery Body
Shapechange

So a lot of choice, I know those over level 6 probably won't get used by most, but there may be a few higher level characters that might want to cause some familiar shenanigans.
For those that worry about their familiars kicking it, The False Life line of spells are nice for adding a buffer to them, and yourself.

Don't forget that Anthropomorphic Animal is a banned spell in Society play.

Grand Lodge 4/5

Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
Tumskunde wrote:

I forgot that you could also use Bestow Weapon Proficiency to give your familiar proficiency with a whip for a short time. And you can get a wand of it, of you want.

I mentioned Anthropomorphic Animal due to it's hours/level duration, other polymorphic spells could fit the bill, though the durations are shorter. Anyway, I figured I'd try and list what I can recall. Gonna list them at the level you first get it and ignore the upgraded versions of the spells.

1st Level
Enlarge Person
Reduce Person
2nd Level
Alter Self
Animal Aspect - Monkey gives Throw Anything to a 'handed' Familiar
3rd Level
Anthropomorphic Animal
Beast Shape
Monstrous Physique
Undead Anatomy
4th Level
Elemental Body
Vermin Shape
5th Level
Animal Growth
Plant Shape
Polymorph
6th Level
Fluid Form
Form of Dragon
Transformation
7th Level
Giant Form
Ice Body
8th Level
Frightful Aspect
Iron Body
9th Level
Fiery Body
Shapechange

So a lot of choice, I know those over level 6 probably won't get used by most, but there may be a few higher level characters that might want to cause some familiar shenanigans.
For those that worry about their familiars kicking it, The False Life line of spells are nice for adding a buffer to them, and yourself.

Don't forget that Anthropomorphic Animal is a banned spell in Society play.

I don't see it listed as banned. The spell blights and blood transcription are the only banned ones I see for Ultimate Magic

The Exchange 5/5

Jokon Yew wrote:

I'm looking for an improved familiar that can use a whip, has weapon finesse, is a valid choice for good characters, is more manueverable than a brownie, tiny-sized, and doesn't require an extra 8000 gp to kit.

In a non-PFS game I'd just get leadership, but that's not an option either.

Just take a brownie and improve the manueverablility. Give him a fly spell maybe? or a wand of expiditus retriet?

Grand Lodge

Completely off topic. I only see 2 stars by your name nosig. I'm going to wring Brett's neck!

I'm going to get that taken care of.


The spells can certainly add a lot to the deliver-aid valet, but a lot of these are taking away a spell cast that might be more appropriate on another spell - particularly since aid another on the familiar is mostly about circumventing the action economy for a +2 bonus. Without a familiar, I can cast heroism for the same equivalent bonus, and I can cast this spell at a lower level than would be needed for one of the familiars that can use weapons. The spell will probably last longer in a fight, too.

I like this spell list, a lot. The problem I'm trying to solve can't use Beast Shape, Vermin Shape, or other shape spells that remove use of hands - given how squishy familiars are they really benefit from an extra 5' of reach. Deliver-aid works with 5' as long as you have manueverability - since you can move in and out, you don't have *too* worry much about 5' step smashes. There's lots of mean and nasty large creatures I'd just as soon not provoke, particularly at the 7+ tiers where improved familiars really get steam. Alter Self/Monstrous Physique/Undead Anatomy/Animal Growth help a lot on this when shifting up (giving my familiar more reach on the whip), but these spells don't provide as hefty a buff as say, bull's strength in regards to actually landing an aid another. In fact, shifting up can actually hurt the tiny and smaller familiars since they lose their +2 (or greater) size bonus on attacks for a measly +2 strength (for medium), resulting in a net of -1 (or worse) to attack rolls. Size changing a familiar isn't all that great for actually *landing* aid another, unless the subsequent change is necessary to fulfill a reach requirement.

Which is how I got to the "how do I get weapon finesse on this thing" question.

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Look up the Polymorph rules again. Making a tiny-sized creature into a large-sized version gives it an even bigger Strength bonus than just the spell. I eventually plan to have my Magus use Monstrous Physique II on his Quasit and hand him a large-sized weapon when it's needed. Can't remember what the extra bonus to Strength is but it's nice.


It's +4 Strength and -2 Dexterity for a creature that starts out Tiny. I hadn't seen that chart before. Funnily enough, according to the table transmuting your quasit into a new and improved tiny creature nets you +2 Strength, +2 Dexterity, and +1 natural AC. The large example you listed is +8 Strength, -4 Dexterity, and +4 natural AC. So you end up with a PFS legal quasit that has the following combat scores:

Unbuffed:
STR:8 | DEX: 14 | NET AC: +0 | ATK: +2

Tiny Monstrous Physique II
STR:10 | DEX: 16 | NET AC: +2 | ATK: +3

Large Monstrous Physique II
STR:16 | DEX: 10 | NET AC: +2 | ATK: +3

Since you have weapon finesse, your net attack roll bonus from statistics is the same whether you go tiny or large. This benefits the familiars without weapon finesse a lot more - mephits and the lyrakien come to mind, since they're outsiders and subsequently proficient with martial weapons. But skip hanging onto a large weapon - buy your quasit a tiny weapon at 1/2 base material cost and 1/10 weight, since it will resize to match when you polymorph him. Let HIM carry it. You just have to be careful about the subsequent movement losses, if any.


While I am not sure this would work, and pretty sure it isn't worth it, it looks like you could take a level as a beast bonded witch, give the familiar your feat, and then cross train out.

Dark Archive

Thomas Graham wrote:
Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
Tumskunde wrote:

I forgot that you could also use Bestow Weapon Proficiency to give your familiar proficiency with a whip for a short time. And you can get a wand of it, of you want.

I mentioned Anthropomorphic Animal due to it's hours/level duration, other polymorphic spells could fit the bill, though the durations are shorter. Anyway, I figured I'd try and list what I can recall. Gonna list them at the level you first get it and ignore the upgraded versions of the spells.

So a lot of choice, I know those over level 6 probably won't get used by most, but there may be a few higher level characters that might want to cause some familiar shenanigans.
For those that worry about their familiars kicking it, The False Life line of spells are nice for adding a buffer to them, and yourself.

Don't forget that Anthropomorphic Animal is a banned spell in Society play.
I don't see it listed as banned. The spell blights and blood transcription are the only banned ones I see for Ultimate Magic

Bah, it was flagged banned under the Vivisectionist entry and when that was removed it looks like the ban was removed to I must have missed that. Good to know.

Still hate the spell since it takes away more then it gives for all animal companions and most familiars.


Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
Thomas Graham wrote:
Mathwei ap Niall wrote:
Tumskunde wrote:

I forgot that you could also use Bestow Weapon Proficiency to give your familiar proficiency with a whip for a short time. And you can get a wand of it, of you want.

I mentioned Anthropomorphic Animal due to it's hours/level duration, other polymorphic spells could fit the bill, though the durations are shorter. Anyway, I figured I'd try and list what I can recall. Gonna list them at the level you first get it and ignore the upgraded versions of the spells.

So a lot of choice, I know those over level 6 probably won't get used by most, but there may be a few higher level characters that might want to cause some familiar shenanigans.
For those that worry about their familiars kicking it, The False Life line of spells are nice for adding a buffer to them, and yourself.

Don't forget that Anthropomorphic Animal is a banned spell in Society play.
I don't see it listed as banned. The spell blights and blood transcription are the only banned ones I see for Ultimate Magic

Bah, it was flagged banned under the Vivisectionist entry and when that was removed it looks like the ban was removed to I must have missed that. Good to know.

Still hate the spell since it takes away more then it gives for all animal companions and most familiars.

Quite true, the part that was banned I think was the use of it through the Torturous Transformation ability, which I was pretty sure that it would let you apply it perminently, still a nightmarish Doctor Moreau ability.

Some people take a Compsognathus or a Rat named Splinter, you lose very little with them. Still not my preferred method, simply a method. The idea was to build a familiar that could use a whip, these could be done without 'sacrificing' a valuable feat. But then I value feats over spells.

Sitri wrote:
While I am not sure this would work, and pretty sure it isn't worth it, it looks like you could take a level as a beast bonded witch, give the familiar your feat, and then cross train out.

The problem here is that when you retrain out, you might lose access to the feat entirely. There is a DM I play with that ruled as such, a player tried to retain out (he was a wizard) and the DM ruled that for the feat to be on the familiar, and for the familiar to use it, the character was required to have the Transfer Feats ability. Thus he ended up keeping the witch level.


Having learned something sounds pretty instantaneous to me, I don't really see anything to maintain. If you cross trained out of a wizard level, would spells disappear from your spellbook?

However, I do think you would be out of luck RAW if the familiar died. Without the ability, you wouldn't have a way to reclaim it from the dead familiar.


The beastbonded witch is 'lending' her feat to the familiar through an improved familiar bond. If you don't have the improved bond, then the feat can't be lent.


I don't see that language anywhere in the ability. When I read it, it reads a lot like the language of instantaneous duration spells. Of course this use of the ability could not be argued as RAI by any stretch of the imagination.

Sczarni 5/5 ⦵⦵

Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ultimate Campaign wrote:
When you retrain a class level, you lose all the benefits of the highest level you have in that class.

Emphasis mine.


touche

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