Patron Familiar, Animal and Improved Familiar, which trumps?


Rules Questions


There's a few posts that indicate a belief that the use of the 'patron familiar' option from the familiar folio in conjunction with the 'improved familiar' feat would circumvent the loss of the ability to "Speak with animals of its kind" that is necessary for most familiar archetypes.

Relevant Rules:

Improved Familiar:
Improved familiars otherwise use the rules for regular familiars, with two exceptions: if the creature's type is something other than animal, its type does not change; and improved familiars do not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of their kind (although many of them already have the ability to communicate).

Patron Familiar, General:
Just as a sorcerer can gain a bloodline familiar, a witch can gain a patron familiar by choosing one at 1st level in place of her standard familiar. A patron familiar acts in all ways like a standard witch’s familiar, with the addition of the special ability indicated below according to the witch’s patron. In addition, the witch gains her patron spells 1 level later than she normally would—gaining the patron spell she’d normally receive at 2nd level at 3rd level instead, and so on.

Animal Patron Ability:
Animal Speaker (Su): The familiar gains the ability to speak with animals of its kind at 1st level. If it would normally gain this ability at 7th level, the familiar gains the ability to speak with all animals (as though constantly under the effects of speak with animals) at 7th level.

Simply stated, which rule trumps which?

A) Does the Improved Familiar's loss of the ability prevent it from gaining it from a different route (or is this really the same route at a different level?)

B) or does the witch's patron imbue it with said ability despite it's previous loss.

C) Does this change if taking a level of witch after already having an improved familiar?


Doesn't work, as has been discussed in may other threads, "unofficially" confirmed by someone from paizo. (feel free to search for it, it's out there somewhere)

Why?

The familiar archetype is looking for the original ability from the familiar, not a replacement granted to it from another source.

An (admittedly not perfect) analogy would be a character with an archetype which gives up Evasion trying to take a second archetype requiring Evasion... by wearing a Ring of Evasion.

Additionally, from a balance perspective, I would discourage attempts to have a FAQ allowing this to work. We'd just see a ton of Mauler Improved Familiars running amok everywhere, and the like.


But the familiar doesn't originally have the ability. It's granted by the class ability and level of it's master. As the patron familiar twist isn't a feat, item, or other external or learned source, it would seem to be as intrinsic to the familiar's nature as other standard familiar abilities.

What's your opinion on the 'Polyglot Familiar' feat being used to qualify for archetypes? (as this FAQ seems to indicate that a feat can be used to qualify for an archetype.)


Maybe a better example...
Let's say you play a (variant) multiclass rogue/monk. Both monk and rogue gain Evasion. However, you still can't take two rogue archetypes that both trade away Evasion even though you'd get it twice, because the second set comes from another class, not the rogue class.


The real problem is that improved familiars are not type animal, so they can't talk to an animal of their type.


Dire rats are animals, as are celestial/entropic/fiendish/resolute familiars.


Avoron wrote:
Dire rats are animals, as are celestial/entropic/fiendish/resolute familiars.

LOL beat me to it. ;)


Actually, even normal familiars are not of type animal.

They are Magical Beasts.

Many Pathfinder authors seem to have forgotten this, and there's plenty of examples of spells, feats, and and class features which don't technically work (or work well) because of this.


It seems that no one has convincingly proved the theory in the original post to be false.


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If gaining ‘speaks with other animals’ from some other source interacted with Improved Familiar at all, it would interact by preventing you from taking Improved Familiar. That’s how the archetype stacking rules work; if the feature in question is modified in any way from the base feature, you can’t stack. More likely, it simply has no interaction.


bonded object amulet.


Byakko wrote:

Actually, even normal familiars are not of type animal.

They are Magical Beasts.

Many Pathfinder authors seem to have forgotten this, and there's plenty of examples of spells, feats, and and class features which don't technically work (or work well) because of this.

At least regarding spells, the second part of the Share Spells ability is the trick:

"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)."
As written, a familiar's master can essentially ignore all type restrictions when casting spells on their familiar.

Doesn't help with feats and class abilities, though.


Lelomenia wrote:
If gaining ‘speaks with other animals’ from some other source interacted with Improved Familiar at all, it would interact by preventing you from taking Improved Familiar. That’s how the archetype stacking rules work; if the feature in question is modified in any way from the base feature, you can’t stack. More likely, it simply has no interaction.

This. You're pretty much out of luck either way.


Sorry, you lost me with the archetype stacking rules (since no archetypes are being stacked).

Patron familiars are an option, but not an archetype and are listed in a separate section than familiar archetypes in the familiar folio.

And improved familiars are, of course, a feat option rather than an archetype.


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FAQ wrote:

Improved Familiars: There are various ways for characters other than arcane spellcasters to gain familiars at this point, and some of those options even grant Improved Familiar as a bonus feat, but technically each Improved Familiar option requires a certain arcane spellcaster level to take it. Does that mean that non-arcane characters with Improved Familiar have a dead feature? How does it work? If it does work, can I take an Improved Familiar as some kind of variant familiar or a temporary familiar like the occultist’s soulbound puppet?

The Improved Familiar description was written back when only arcane spellcasters could have familiars, and it wasn’t sufficiently future-proofed. To that end, you can always substitute your effective wizard level for the purpose of determining your familiar’s abilities for “arcane spellcaster level” to determine the available improved familiars for your character. In general, you can take Improved Familiars for class-granted variant familiars like a shaman’s spirit animal, with a few exceptions: First, temporary familiars like the occultist’s soulbound puppet can’t become Improved Familiars from the Improved Familiar feat, and those class features don’t qualify you to take the Improved Familiar feat. Second, tumor familiars, as lumps of flesh in the shape of animals, can’t become Improved Familiars. In other cases, treat Improved Familiar as if it was an archetype to see if it stacks with other familiar options: since the two things it alters from a regular familiar are that it removes the ability to speak with animals of its kind and it prevents changing the creature type for non-animals, you couldn’t make a familiar that changes the creature type of non-animals or alters or removes speak with animals of its kind an Improved Familiar.

Since you treat it like an archetype, we see that it modifies an already modified feature in this case, and thus doesn't work.


Ah, that faq was posted 6 months after the original post. Probably clears it up....

but

Just to play devil's advocate:

Some will argue that the 'animal speaker' ability a patron familiar gains at 1st level actually alters the patron spell feature and only alters the 'speak with animals of its own kind' ability if the familiar would have gained it at 7th level. Since Improved familiars don't have it, it's not being altered.

Shadow Lodge

My read is that the Animal Speaker ability would grant the Improved Familiar the ability to speak with animals of its kind (if it is a kind of animal) at 1st level, since this happens even if the familiar wouldn't get the ability at 7th level. This wouldn't enable the Improved Familiar to take a familiar archetype that requires the Speak With Animals familiar ability - and you don't get the 7th level upgrade to speak with all animals since the familiar wouldn't normally get Speak With Animals.

Improved Familiar removes Speak with Animals, Animal Speaker gives you a new instance. Animal Speaker doesn't alter the original instance, but it doesn't undo the fact that Improved Familiar removed that instance.

(As a GM I might allow the archetype on a case by case basis if I felt it wasn't overpowered, but certainly no pairing Protector with anything that has regeneration...)


willuwontu wrote:
FAQ wrote:

Improved Familiars: There are various ways for characters other than arcane spellcasters to gain familiars at this point, and some of those options even grant Improved Familiar as a bonus feat, but technically each Improved Familiar option requires a certain arcane spellcaster level to take it. Does that mean that non-arcane characters with Improved Familiar have a dead feature? How does it work? If it does work, can I take an Improved Familiar as some kind of variant familiar or a temporary familiar like the occultist’s soulbound puppet?

The Improved Familiar description was written back when only arcane spellcasters could have familiars, and it wasn’t sufficiently future-proofed. To that end, you can always substitute your effective wizard level for the purpose of determining your familiar’s abilities for “arcane spellcaster level” to determine the available improved familiars for your character. In general, you can take Improved Familiars for class-granted variant familiars like a shaman’s spirit animal, with a few exceptions: First, temporary familiars like the occultist’s soulbound puppet can’t become Improved Familiars from the Improved Familiar feat, and those class features don’t qualify you to take the Improved Familiar feat. Second, tumor familiars, as lumps of flesh in the shape of animals, can’t become Improved Familiars. In other cases, treat Improved Familiar as if it was an archetype to see if it stacks with other familiar options: since the two things it alters from a regular familiar are that it removes the ability to speak with animals of its kind and it prevents changing the creature type for non-animals, you couldn’t make a familiar that changes the creature type of non-animals or alters or removes speak with animals of its kind an Improved Familiar.

Since you treat it like an archetype, we see that it modifies an already modified feature in this case, and thus...

Funny, cause last I checked, Patron Familiar is NOT a Familiar archetype. Thus no stacking occurs. Thus it does in fact work.


archetypes wrote:
A character can take more than one archetype and garner additional alternate class features, but none of the alternate class features can replace or alter the same class feature from the core class as another alternate class feature.

the archetype stacking rules are worded so they are generalized to apply for any optional features that involve modifying features. It specifies ‘class features’, which familiars don’t really have, but familiar archetype and improved familiar rules say they work the same way as regular archetypes, indicating that familiar abilities are considered their class features for this purpose.

Shadow Lodge

Reksew_Trebla wrote:
Funny, cause last I checked, Patron Familiar is NOT a Familiar archetype. Thus no stacking occurs. Thus it does in fact work.

That's why I'm saying that Patron Familiar would work with an Improved Familiar (assuming the familiar had an animal type to speak with), but Patron Familiar wouldn't allow you to stack Improved Familiar with an archetype that modified Speak with Animals of Kind.

Patron familiar isn't an archetype and works whether or not you have Speak with Animals of Kind. That's why it says "If it would normally gain this ability at 7th level..."

But Patron Familiar doesn't undo the fact that Improved Familiar is treated like an archetype that removes Speak with Animals of Kind.

Note opening of OP:

kadance wrote:
There's a few posts that indicate a belief that the use of the 'patron familiar' option from the familiar folio in conjunction with the 'improved familiar' feat would circumvent the loss of the ability to "Speak with animals of its kind" that is necessary for most familiar archetypes.


Thanks for the clarity, everyone. It seems that Improved Familiar and familiar archetypes that modify Speak with Animals of Its Kind are mutually exclusive.

As a GM, I'd interpret that you could just remove your improved familiar's languages in order to qualify for archetypes that replace Speak with Animals of its Kind. Improved Familiar and familiar archetypes seem like they should coexist -- they're both very desirable for players that want a specialized familiar.

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