What alignment is a non-improved familiar?


Rules Questions

Silver Crusade

All the standard familiars are basically dumb animals that got magically enhanced. But once they get that enhancement that makes them a familiar, they start with 6 int and a strong empathic link to their master. One would assume that would alter their outlook on life from back when they only had 1 or 2 int.

Do they share their master's alignment, or are they still officially true neutral?


I've always thought they shared their master's alignment, but I can't find any actual rules saying that. I'm pretty sure they aren't defined to be neutral either, so that leaves it in GM territory.


Whatever their past actions dictate, just like a human commoner or whatever that doesn't list a mandated alignment.


I'd rule them to be the same of their master's


I could swear it was the same as the master , but i also cant find it.

Well , i would keep it that way to avoid obvious conflict , since the familiar is nothing more than the extension of the PC , it would be weird if they could disagree or something.


Nox Aeterna wrote:

I could swear it was the same as the master , but i also cant find it.

Well , i would keep it that way to avoid obvious conflict , since the familiar is nothing more than the extension of the PC , it would be weird if they could disagree or something.

I don't think this is accurate. Where does it say a familiar is "nothing more than the extension of the PC"? A familiar is a magical beast that has certain special connections to the PC, but I don't see anything that suggests it is any less of its own creature otherwise than the PC is his own separate creature otherwise. They both have their separate thoughts, desires, and backgrounds, and thus I see no reason for them not to be able to have different alignments.

Some relevant quotes:

Quote:
Plot hooks for familiars are similar to those for animal companions, as they can have the same unknown backgrounds and instinctive reactions to people they knew when they were just common animals.

(retain their memories and separate plot hooks and backgrounds, etc.)

Quote:
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.

(Loyal ally, not part of you)

Quote:
A familiar is an animal chosen by a spellcaster to aid him in his study of magic. It retains the appearance, Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, skills, and feats of the normal animal it once was, but is now a magical beast for the purpose of effects that depend on its type.

(Main description, nothing about it being part of you. Just a magical beast that aids you)

And also, the fact that it is POSSIBLE to gain a different alignment than your improved familiar, as per the text that says you lose one of those if that happens, this would also logically require that you aren't just extensions of the same creature, because if so, it would have been impossible for such a thing to ever happen...


PRD on animal type wrote:
-are always neutral
PRD on familiars wrote:
Only a normal, unmodified animal may become a familiar.

There is nothing altering a familiars alignment so it remains neutral. Probably safe to assume it remains neutral to it's masters actions no matter what they are.

Also familiars are expressly under the control of the player so any disagreements would only be as a RP opportunity of the players.


Quote:
There is nothing altering a familiars alignment so it remains neutral.

Yes as an animal it was neutral. It's now no longer an animal, it's a magical beast, so this restriction is lifted, although it would still START at neutral.

But after that, there is something that can alter its alignment: It's actions and choices, just like any other character. So if it starts neutral upon being made a familiar, but then decides to go do some evil things, it can and will become evil, just like any character could and would. And there's nothing really stopping this from happening even if the player associated with it doesn't do evil things, and thus remains some other alignment.


Crimeo you quoted a exact line where is says it will do almost anything you order it to do , barring like usual the suicidal part , while it also keeps "your interests at heart".

I really dont see how a being that is bound to pretty much obey you at every turn and that is magicaly made to care about your interests always , could deviate from your own alignment much.

Hell you could literally order the familiar to follow a "alignment" and it would do so outside if it meant suicide, in which case i guess it would make some sense.

Ofc a improved familiar is a whole other mess , but we were talking the normal ones here.

Grand Lodge

What alignment are Animal Companions, Monstrous Mounts, or Bonded Mounts?


Nox Aeterna wrote:
Crimeo you quoted a exact line where is says it will do almost anything you order it to do , barring like usual the suicidal part , while it also keeps "your interests at heart".

A neutral creature could still have its master's interests at heart. It would just pursue those interests differently than a lawful/chaotic/good/evil creature would.

Just a thought. I don't actually know anything about anything.


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Quote:


Crimeo you quoted a exact line where is says it will do almost anything you order it to do , barring like usual the suicidal part , while it also keeps "your interests at heart".

Do you spend all day long telling your familiar to do stuff? I certainly don't. I've never seen anybody at a table who does.

So like 95% of the time, the familiar is making its own choices about what it's up to. All of this time can potentially lead to other alignment making decisions and actions.

Quote:
Hell you could literally order the familiar to follow a "alignment" and it would do so outside if it meant suicide, in which case i guess it would make some sense.

Sure you could probably intervene and change it back. This doesn't change the possibility of it having a different alignment in general/in the first place, though which is the OP's question. Even if you can use this tactic prophylactically ahead of time, MOST people simply don't (I've never seen it happen), so the great majority of the time, that won't be relevant either.

Silver Crusade

claudekennilol wrote:
What alignment are Animal Companions, Monstrous Mounts, or Bonded Mounts?

I don't know about monstrous mounts, but the others are unmodified animals, just better trained, so they still have 1 or 2. That means true neutral.

Like most here, I disagree with dragonhunterq's opinion that familiars have to stay true neutral. Obviously, that was their alignment when their intelligence was 1 or 2, as backed up by the quotes he pulled out. But once their int gets boosted to 6, and they become magical creatures, they should be able to change their personality enough to establish their own alignment.

Improved familiars only have to be within one alignment step of their master. I have a CN tattooed sorceress (my one borderline evil PC, just for variety, since I tend to lean more towards heroic/good PCs) who I plan on getting a CG improved familiar at level 7. The personality conflict between my borderline evil PC and her good familiar should make for some fun RP.

Familiars are definitely their own individuals. While they're loyal to their masters, they do have 6+ intelligence, and are fully capable of having their own personalities.

What about the Chosen One archetype for paladins from the Familiar Folio? The familiar is sent by a deity (not necessarily LG - could be NG or LN) to choose a LG person to become their paladin. At level 7, the archetype says that the familiar reveals its true nature (I forget the exact wording) and becomes an improved familiar of the same alignment as the deity. This would imply that it was actually the improved familiar all along, just pretending to have been a dumb animal turned into a magical beast, so their alignment would always have matched the deity who sent them.

Grand Lodge

That was kinda my point with Bonded Mounts. Their int gets a boost to 6. And Monstrous Mounts are magical beasts. Worg is one of those options and comes with an int of 6, I think the griffon's int is also 6 (the others I've never taken a serious look at because the worg is the only one that's worth it (and the griffon maybe (..and the water buffalo thing if you're in a water campaign))).

For Monstrous Mounts, I've just assumed their alignment was whatever the bestiary entry for them is because nothing says otherwise (thus I've got two PFS characters with an Neutral Evil worg companion).

Bonded Mounts have an int of 6 and I don't think anything says what their alignment is.

Shadow Lodge

I agree that a creature with an intelligence higher than 2, whether a familiar, paladin's mount, or monstrous mount, could have an alignment other than TN. The question is whether it's likely, and I think that it is.

The restriction on improved familiars, on clerics and such having to be within one step of their patron deity, and on characters with the Leadership feat recruiting cohorts of different alignments, suggest that it's hard to have a close loyal relationship with someone who has an essentially different moral/ethical philosophy than you. Since familiars are closer to their masters than cohorts (with the empathic link, shared skill points, etc) it makes sense for them to be at least as likely to have a shared alignment. I would assume by default that a non-improved familiar has an alignment matching their master, unless there's a compelling reason otherwise.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

An animal with boosted inteliigence isn't Awakened, so it's not sentient. So while it's brain may run faster, it's still the brain of an animal, so it's alignment remains neutral.

Shadow Lodge

That would affect animal companions, but not familiars, which are indeed magical beasts.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Weirdo wrote:
That would affect animal companions, but not familiars, which are indeed magical beasts.

Magical beasts can be, but are not automatically sentient. Please show the text where it says otherwise.


1) Where does it say elves are sentient?

2) Why does sentience matter here in the first place for this thread?

Shadow Lodge

Actually we do now have a formal definition of sentience, and it is relevant to the thread:

Nondetection, mind blank, and similar effects can block this effect. Thoughtsense can distinguish between sentient (Intelligence 3 or greater) and non-sentient (Intelligence 1–2) creatures, but otherwise provides no information about the creatures it detects.

This is consistent with earlier rules:
Seekers of Secrets wrote:
Ioun stones only float when sent spinning around the head of an intelligent (Int 3+) creature; otherwise they are as inert as common stone. They have no effect on animals, mindless constructs, and other non-sentient creatures; comatose intelligent creatures and those with significant Intelligence damage or drain cannot use ioun stones. An ioun stone has no particular affinity for the living—intelligent undead and the rare intelligent construct can make full use of them.
Classic Horrors Revisited wrote:
Through some unknown process, rare berserk golems have been known to spontaneously generate consciousness and intelligence, breaking free of their masters’ control and setting them far above their mindless counterparts. This can only occur if the golem has ever gone berserk.The golem becomes an intelligent, sentient creature.

Familiars have Intelligence greater than 3, therefore they are sentient. Since they are not animals they lack the "always neutral" trait and may have an alignment.

In fact, re-reading the blog on intelligent animals I would suggest that the animal trait "always neutral," like the trait "no creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher can be an animal" applies only to the creation process, and that a sufficiently intelligent animal could also gain moral understanding and thus an alignment. However that should probably be an even longer process than learning a language.


okay, agreed that the above quotes establish INT 3 animals as sentient (as well as elves and whatever else). But still don't see why that specific technical categorization is relevant to the thread anyway.

Yes you have to be able to understand morality to be aligned, obviously, but what does the binary classification "sentient/non-sentient" have to do with this, versus just a high INT or having been exposed to morality, or both, or whatever else one might suggest is relevant? Is sentience specified somewhere as specifically mattering for this by RAW?

Silver Crusade

It matters because the rules say that non-sentient animals (int 1 or 2) are always true neutral.

So this establishes that familiars may have started out that way, but no longer fall into that category, now that they have higher int scores.


Quote:
It matters because the rules say that non-sentient animals (int 1 or 2) are always true neutral.

I am not finding such text in a d20pfsrd search, nor on the Paizo alignment rules? Where is it?


I'd allow the player to define the alignment of their familiar. In general it will either by TN or within one step of the master's alignment. But I'd allow anything. I can easily imagine a good master with a cat who sees nothing wrong with playing with wounded foes. Or an evil master with a familiar that tries to pull him to the good side.

Silver Crusade

Crimeo wrote:
Quote:
It matters because the rules say that non-sentient animals (int 1 or 2) are always true neutral.
I am not finding such text in a d20pfsrd search, nor on the Paizo alignment rules? Where is it?

It's in the Beastiary definition of the animal creature type.


Fromper wrote:
Crimeo wrote:
Quote:
It matters because the rules say that non-sentient animals (int 1 or 2) are always true neutral.
I am not finding such text in a d20pfsrd search, nor on the Paizo alignment rules? Where is it?
It's in the Beastiary definition of the animal creature type.

I don't see the words "sentient" or "sentience" anywhere in that link.

Also, although I am curious about that rule you're referencing and where it is for other reasons, remember that familiars aren't animals anyway, so this is still off topic even if true. (they are magical beasts)

Silver Crusade

Well, that Bestiary entry talks about 1 and 2 int animals, and the fact that they're neutral by definition. That's the point - familiars aren't locked into that any more.

Shadow Lodge

There's also this bit in the description of alignment:

Alignment wrote:
Animals and other creatures incapable of moral action are neutral. Even deadly vipers and tigers that eat people are neutral because they lack the capacity for morally right or wrong behavior. Dogs may be obedient and cats free-spirited, but they do not have the moral capacity to be truly lawful or chaotic.

While this passage does not elaborate on why animals are incapable of moral action, it is widely interpreted as a reference to sentience/intelligence. The ability to think & reason about the consequences of one's actions certainly seems necessary to be held morally responsible for them.


Just to clarify "remains" was strictly in the transition from normal animal to familiar. Never meant to infer that it couldn't change after that point.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Whoa! I thought it said it matched the master's alignment too! What the heck!? There's no way this is a coincidence. Was the rule removed at some point or something?


Ravingdork wrote:
Whoa! I thought it said it matched the master's alignment too! What the heck!? There's no way this is a coincidence. Was the rule removed at some point or something?

That would be a potentially problematic rule, which should have been removed if it did used to exist IMO. Alignment is supposed to be a record of your actions, so if a rule like this existed, it would be overriding that for familiars, and/or would imply all kinds of weird things about free will, which could lead to various unforeseen problems.

"Must be your alignment to continue being your familiar" (but not automatically set to that) is more workable, like for the improved familiars. Though in my opinion rather harsh.

Silver Crusade

Even improved familiars don't have to be the same alignment, just within one alignment step.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Crimeo wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Whoa! I thought it said it matched the master's alignment too! What the heck!? There's no way this is a coincidence. Was the rule removed at some point or something?

That would be a potentially problematic rule, which should have been removed if it did used to exist IMO. Alignment is supposed to be a record of your actions, so if a rule like this existed, it would be overriding that for familiars, and/or would imply all kinds of weird things about free will, which could lead to various unforeseen problems.

"Must be your alignment to continue being your familiar" (but not automatically set to that) is more workable, like for the improved familiars. Though in my opinion rather harsh.

I can see the "Does this witch's familiar fall?" threads already.


I had a PC with 4 Paladin levels and Eldritch Heritage (Arcane) and wondered whether a Paladin's familiar would be affected by the clause in the Code of Conduct which says, "A paladin may accept only henchmen, followers, or cohorts who are lawful good." It doesn't actually say "familiars" in there, but it made me wonder.


Nox Aeterna wrote:

I could swear it was the same as the master , but i also cant find it.

Well , i would keep it that way to avoid obvious conflict , since the familiar is nothing more than the extension of the PC , it would be weird if they could disagree or something.

I've always ruled that the familiar shares its master's alignment but something you just said made me think -- "to avoid obvious conflict" -- if your caster/master were CE or NE, their nature is to be selfish and self-serving above all else. Therefore, if your familiar matches your alignment, then THEY would be selfish and self-serving. Imagine a familiar which would throw its master under the bus to save its own neck, or even just because it produced some short term need or desire - like food or extra loot. Or maybe even just if it thought it was funny. In my mind, a CE or NE underling is going to be treacherous by nature.


Maveric28 wrote:
Nox Aeterna wrote:

I could swear it was the same as the master , but i also cant find it.

Well , i would keep it that way to avoid obvious conflict , since the familiar is nothing more than the extension of the PC , it would be weird if they could disagree or something.

I've always ruled that the familiar shares its master's alignment but something you just said made me think -- "to avoid obvious conflict" -- if your caster/master were CE or NE, their nature is to be selfish and self-serving above all else. Therefore, if your familiar matches your alignment, then THEY would be selfish and self-serving. Imagine a familiar which would throw its master under the bus to save its own neck, or even just because it produced some short term need or desire - like food or extra loot. Or maybe even just if it thought it was funny. In my mind, a CE or NE underling is going to be treacherous by nature.

I would agree in the case of a improved familiar , a normal familiar on the other hand i wouldnt.

Like is was said above , the thing cant even disobey a single order that doesnt involve getting it killed , add to it how it atleast in theory should be loyal and i dont see that happening.

Ofc , i would still make it CE/NE , which means anyone other than its master is in for some trouble in some situations.


Imps and Quasits have reasons to serve pretty well as familiars most of the time. Besides getting them out of Hell or worse places for a while it allows them to help spread Evil on the material plane. It also helps them further corrupt their masters and seal their eternal fate. Imps in particular also might see a little more of the "Big Picture", and they're probably not in a big hurry since they're effectively immortal.

For non-improved familiars I think that if the master dies the familiar goes back to being just an animal after 24 hours. I doubt that most familiars would want that to happen (Flowers for Algernon)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Fromper wrote:
Even improved familiars don't have to be the same alignment, just within one alignment step.

There ARE specific exceptions to that rule... such as a certain chaotic good familliar which emits a field that damages anyone whose alignment is even one step removed from CG.

Shadow Lodge

You could still have one as a familiar if you you were NG or CN, it would just be hazardous.

Improved Familiars have intelligence apart from the familiar bond, so it makes sense that they would have more moral independence than non-improved ones.

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