Can a familiar with a dead master still deliver a touch spell?


Rules Questions

Sovereign Court

A wizard gave a familiar a touch spell and then died, does the familiar still have the ability to deliver it? What if the spell is animate dead, does the newly created zombie fall under the control of the familiar?

The Exchange RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

I would rule that, at the death of the caster, the animal is no longer a familiar and scurries about in search of safety or food. It might still have a touch spell, which will make that first pounce pretty effective.


As far as I know all familiars and animal companions turn into 'normal' animals once their Master is dead. So any ability granting them by the class feature disappears.


Witch familiars take 24 hours to revert. That is how long another witch has to get spells know from the dead witch's familiar.

/cevah


Ultimate Campaign wrote:

Controlling Companions

How a companion works depends on the campaign as well as the companion's nature, intelligence, and abilities. In some cases, the rules do not specify whether you or the GM controls the companion. If you're entirely in control, the companion acts like a subsidiary PC, doing exactly what you want just like a true PC. If the GM is control, you can make suggestions or attempt to influence the companion, but the GM determines whether the creature is willing or able to attempt what you want.
Aspects of Control

Whether you or the GM controls a particular companion depends largely on the creature's intelligence and level of independence from you.

Nonsentient Companions: a nonsentient companion (one with animal-level intelligence) is loyal to you in the way a well-trained dog is—the creature is conditioned to obey your commands, but its behavior is limited by its intelligence and it can't make altruistic moral decisions—such as nobly sacrificing itself to save another. Animal companions, cavalier mounts, and purchased creatures (such as common horses and guard dogs) fall into this category. In general they're GM-controlled companions. You can direct them using the Handle Animal skill, but their specific behavior is up to the GM.

Sentient Companions: a sentient companion (a creature that can understand language and has an Intelligence score of at least 3) is considered your ally and obeys your suggestions and orders to the best of its ability. It won't necessarily blindly follow a suicidal order, but it has your interests at heart and does what it can to keep you alive. Paladin bonded mounts, familiars, and cohorts fall into this category, and are usually player-controlled companions.

Nothing changes when the caster dies. The PC never necessarily controlled the familiar in the first place, but it is usually a player-controlled companion, so its actions can continue to be PC decided, though I could see a GM deciding to take over upon death. There is no reason for the touch spell to have dissipated upon the caster's death, it can still be used.

Animate Dead wrote:
This spell turns corpses into undead skeletons or zombies that obey your spoken commands.

The familiar can deliver the touch spell, but the caster remains the same. Since the caster is dead, no spoken commands are delivered and I would say that the raised dead just stand there doing nothing.


Animate Dead wrote:
This spell turns corpses into undead skeletons or zombies that obey your spoken commands.
GrenMeera wrote:
The familiar can deliver the touch spell, but the caster remains the same. Since the caster is dead, no spoken commands are delivered and I would say that the raised dead just stand there doing nothing.

Nope. It becomes an uncontrolled undead that will go after the nearest living thing.

/cevah


Cevah wrote:
Nope. It becomes an uncontrolled undead that will go after the nearest living thing.

You know, I initially thought this too, but when I looked up uncontrolled undead the only description I could find is if you animate more undead HD than you can control.

I suppose a GM could go either way with it, but do you have any evidence that it would be uncontrolled for a dead PC?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GrenMeera wrote:
Cevah wrote:
Nope. It becomes an uncontrolled undead that will go after the nearest living thing.

You know, I initially thought this too, but when I looked up uncontrolled undead the only description I could find is if you animate more undead HD than you can control.

I suppose a GM could go either way with it, but do you have any evidence that it would be uncontrolled for a dead PC?

When you ask it that way one could just as easily flip back and ask "Do you have any evidence that it would be controlled for a dead PC? You should know very well that the rules simply do not address this topic and it's a matter for GM adjudication.


LazarX wrote:
When you ask it that way one could just as easily flip back and ask "Do you have any evidence that it would be controlled for a dead PC? You should know very well that the rules simply do not address this topic and it's a matter for GM adjudication.

Yeah, I will be the first to admit that I don't have all rules memorized. I was asking if there is actually a RAW ruling and it probably came across a little accusatory. That wasn't my intent.

To answer your question: No, I do not have evidence that they would continue to be controlled.

I was leaning more towards the "specific overrides the general" mentality when finding no general description on what happens. With nothing to go off of, I lean towards "nothing happens" unless it simply doesn't make any reasonable sense.

Since the spell is instantaneous, I found it reasonable to think that the magic is keyed into it's purpose at the time of casting and control is a limit on your soul and not body (wasting time in the Boneyard while all these undead are just waiting on you, Pharasma may dislike you).

I could understand another reasonable interpretation that believes that control is maintained through your physical being. You are right, there is no RAW answer and there is room for GM adjudication.

Sovereign Court

Regardless, this represents the best way to raise YOURSELF as a zombie. Cast animate dead, have your familiar hold the charge, kill yourself, and have it animate you.

This is almost certainly against RAW and would require GM fiat, but arguably, since you cast the spell, you could be under your own control; it could be a way to have an intelligent skeleton/zombie! Or you could be under the control of your familiar. Could be an interesting NPC.


GralphidB wrote:
Cast animate dead, have your familiar hold the charge, kill yourself, and have it animate you.

What scares me about this is the fact that Animate Dead does not specify that it brings the soul back to the body. Undead have always been a curiosity to me because they seem inconsistent on what exactly animates them. Is it negative energy? Is it the original soul? Is it a random soul grabbed by magic? Is it the original soul now completely shredded by negative energy?

You may not get what you bargained for. The GM could turn this into something unexpected.


GralphidB wrote:

Regardless, this represents the best way to raise YOURSELF as a zombie. Cast animate dead, have your familiar hold the charge, kill yourself, and have it animate you.

This is almost certainly against RAW and would require GM fiat, but arguably, since you cast the spell, you could be under your own control; it could be a way to have an intelligent skeleton/zombie! Or you could be under the control of your familiar. Could be an interesting NPC.

Make yourself into a fast bloody zombie for the regeneration.That plus spell casting will make you frightening indeed. Cool NPC though.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
GrenMeera wrote:
GralphidB wrote:
Cast animate dead, have your familiar hold the charge, kill yourself, and have it animate you.

What scares me about this is the fact that Animate Dead does not specify that it brings the soul back to the body. Undead have always been a curiosity to me because they seem inconsistent on what exactly animates them. Is it negative energy? Is it the original soul? Is it a random soul grabbed by magic? Is it the original soul now completely shredded by negative energy?

You may not get what you bargained for. The GM could turn this into something unexpected.

Count on it. *Insert Evil GM Grin*


Just looked, and I did not find any indication that uncontrolled undead go after anything. That may be something from earlier editions.

While having your familiar reanimate you with Animate Dead, neither Skeletons nor Zombies have an Int score. Variants might. If you go the path of reanimating yourself, why not go for Contingency + Create Undead. The latter spell lets you create undead with int.

/cevah

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