For Teleport / Dimension Door / etc., is a familiar a "creature" or an "object"?


Rules Questions


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My wizard's player got VERY upset with me the other week because I ruled that his familiar counted as a "willing creature" for the purposes of his Dimensional Steps ability.

Considering that the Teleportation school specifically cites familiars as an exception for the Shift ability, and the Conjuration school does NOT list familiars as exceptions for the Dimensional Steps ability, I felt I was in the right.

However, it opened up a HUGE argument as to whether or not a familiar counted against such spells as Dimension Door, Teleport, and so forth.

Is there an official ruling anywhere on how to treat familiars during dimensional movement? I've always treated them as 'creatures', but the player wants to see it in black and white. Or at least in pixels.

Thanks!


Considering that the word "creature" is used extensively in the rules regarding a familiar, it seems pretty clear to me.

But just in case:

Familiar Basics wrote:
Use the basic statistics for a creature of the familiar's kind, but with the following changes.


By default they obviously are creatures and count against any limitations, but I suppose there could be an exception or clarification somewhere.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

So you know what level the wizard is by how many bunnies are left behind when he teleports. Interesting.


You were right, there is nothing to indicate familiars are anything but creatures.
Get your player to come up with any evidence to show how a freaking cat isn't a creature. The burden of proof is on them.

Liberty's Edge

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Teleportation (which is just a form of Conjuration) school allows a familiar (but not any other creature) to be taken with the caster because the familiar is considered part of / bonded to the caster.

Thus, I'd agree with the player... they should be able to take the familiar along with ANY teleportation effect.


CBDunkerson wrote:

Teleportation (which is just a form of Conjuration) school allows a familiar (but not any other creature) to be taken with the caster because the familiar is considered part of / bonded to the caster.

Thus, I'd agree with the player... they should be able to take the familiar along with ANY teleportation effect.

Can you please point me to that? I don't see it here. Is there somewhere else to look?

Sovereign Court

MeanMutton wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:

Teleportation (which is just a form of Conjuration) school allows a familiar (but not any other creature) to be taken with the caster because the familiar is considered part of / bonded to the caster.

Thus, I'd agree with the player... they should be able to take the familiar along with ANY teleportation effect.

Can you please point me to that? I don't see it here. Is there somewhere else to look?

He's saying it works for exactly the same reason that OP says it doesn't. Unfortunately, he's wrong; the rules for the Teleportation subschool's Shift ability aren't general rules. They don't apply to Dimensional Steps any more than the rules for an eidolon apply to an animal companion.


I have to agree with the two posters above: The Shift ability specifically includes the familiar. Since that is explicitly stated as an exception, I treat all other forms of dimensional transportation as their default (the familiar is a creature).

Otherwise you'd expect verbiage in the Teleportation School section to clarify.

Liberty's Edge

Interesting ...

Might be worth clicking the FAQ link on this ...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The change from 3.5 to Pathfinder made this relevant in the change to how Share Spells works. For the people saying it's obvious that the familiar is a creature, I doubt that's where the player is drawing his line in the sand. In some ways (such as the shift power), the familiar is treated as an extension of the wizard.

I agree with NobodysHome because there isn't a special exemption. I suspect this was a side-effect of the change to prevent various exploits involving sharing spells (e.g. dragon's breath then allowed both you and your familiar to breathe fire every 1d4 rounds, which is effectively making it a twinned spell for wizards) rather than being a design goal, but I also think it would be considered an acceptable consequence.


Illeist wrote:
MeanMutton wrote:
CBDunkerson wrote:

Teleportation (which is just a form of Conjuration) school allows a familiar (but not any other creature) to be taken with the caster because the familiar is considered part of / bonded to the caster.

Thus, I'd agree with the player... they should be able to take the familiar along with ANY teleportation effect.

Can you please point me to that? I don't see it here. Is there somewhere else to look?
He's saying it works for exactly the same reason that OP says it doesn't. Unfortunately, he's wrong; the rules for the Teleportation subschool's Shift ability aren't general rules. They don't apply to Dimensional Steps any more than the rules for an eidolon apply to an animal companion.

Oh! I thought it was a general Teleportation subschool thingie. In that case, I agree with you - that's a specific example that overrides the general case that a familiar counts against the number of willing creatures that can be teleported.


Pathfinder Adventure, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

RAW- a familiar is a "creature" for purposes of teleportation, and really any other spell effect.

That being said, I would 100% allow a wizard or witch or shaman to ignore the familiar for purposes of teleportation, as long as they are with the PC at time of teleporting.

Animal Companions and Eidolons on the other hand count as separate creature.


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What about an attached tumor familiar. Does a tumor get left behind?


NobodysHome wrote:

My wizard's player got VERY upset with me the other week because I ruled that his familiar counted as a "willing creature" for the purposes of his Dimensional Steps ability.

Considering that the Teleportation school specifically cites familiars as an exception for the Shift ability, and the Conjuration school does NOT list familiars as exceptions for the Dimensional Steps ability, I felt I was in the right.

However, it opened up a HUGE argument as to whether or not a familiar counted against such spells as Dimension Door, Teleport, and so forth.

Is there an official ruling anywhere on how to treat familiars during dimensional movement? I've always treated them as 'creatures', but the player wants to see it in black and white. Or at least in pixels.

Thanks!

No there isn't. I generally rule familliars as part of the caster as long as they are in physical contact. This is one of my exception in my general "rule worse for the caster" as both interpretations seem to be valid ones.


Hold on! Nobody move! Has anyone seen my tumor...


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Melkiador wrote:
What about an attached tumor familiar. Does a tumor get left behind?
Tumor Familiar wrote:
As a standard action, the alchemist can have the tumor detach itself from his body as a separate creature vaguely resembling a kind of animal suitable for a familiar (bat, cat, and so on) and move about as if it were an independent creature.

So, it's only a separate creature when it's not attached. Dodged one there!


I have had players insist that they can rid themselves of fleas, bedbugs, lice, and the the like with a simple Dimension Door. I have to agree, so I allow it.


MeanMutton wrote:
So, it's only a separate creature when it's not attached. Dodged one there!

That sounds abusable somehow. If a tumor gets poisoned just have it attach. If you're not a creature you can't be effected by poison. Etc.

And if it's not a creature, then how does it benefit from its fast healing?

Liberty's Edge

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When a Wizard becomes invisible does their carried familiar remain visible, just sort of floating along through the air? The spell says it covers only ONE creature (and their gear).

When you teleport yourself does all of your gear remain behind and fall to the ground in a pile? Dimension Steps says it teleports you and possibly other willing creatures... nothing about gear.

The same logical progression which holds Shift covering a familiar to be an exception proving that other instances do NOT cover the familiar would result in Invisibility (or Shift/Dimension Door) being an exception covering equipment, indicating that Dimensional Steps does NOT cover equipment.

You can certainly make a case that since the rules do not specifically state that familiars (and/or equipment) are covered by various magical effects that they are not. For Dimensional Steps you'd have just as 'solid' a case to argue that all his gear got left behind as that the familiar counted against his range.

The alternate view is that if the effect(s) were intended to be that crippling it would have been mentioned, rather than just left to inference.


CBDunkerson wrote:
When a Wizard becomes invisible does their carried familiar remain visible, just sort of floating along through the air? The spell says it covers only ONE creature (and their gear).

Absolutely. Unless you also want to allow the human monk in the overcoat to carry the raging gnome barbarian right up to your BBEG and carve him up. I don't allow two-for-one invisibility under any circumstances.

Allowing exceptions where familiars are quasi-objects/quasi-creatures leads to all kinds of requests for other exceptions. If you want your familiar with you when you turn invisible, take Improved Share Spells.

I searched for other examples, but it's all just threads on, "Oh, if the familiar's in the carrying pouch it's invisible, but once it comes out it's visible" and so forth.

Setting creatures = creatures and objects = objects avoids abuse.

Quote:
When you teleport yourself does all of your gear remain behind and fall to the ground in a pile?
PRD wrote:
Teleport: You can bring along objects as long as their weight doesn't exceed your maximum load.

No need for me to answer, then.

Quote:
Dimension Steps says it teleports you and possibly other willing creatures... nothing about gear.

Dimension steps says it's a teleport, teleport says it carries gear.

In fact, I started looking up the various movement spells that can include allies (Teleport, Dimension Door, Bard's Escape), and most of them include a comment about gear.

You are correct that some of them don't (Plane Shift and Shadow Walk were two I found), but it shows that it's kind of a crap shoot to find specifics.

Quote:
The alternate view is that if the effect(s) were intended to be that crippling it would have been mentioned, rather than just left to inference.

I hardly consider, "You can't treat your familiar as an object sometimes and as a creature at other times" to be crippling. Instead, it prevents things like, "My familiar is under my coat so it's invisible, so it goes into Stealth, sneaks up behind the enemy, then on its next turn delivers a devastating touch spell then moves back under my coat so it's invisible again (after all, once I'm carrying it it's an object, and objects I pick up turn invisible). Then I take my declared action that I move the moment my familiar climbs under my robe to move away so the guy never gets a chance to retaliate..."

EDIT: It really is the difference between, "Just pay the movement cost for your familiar and/or take the feat," and trying to anticipate an unknown number of future arguments if you start allowing the familiar to be an object in certain circumstances. I'm happy with the familiar pouch; it resolves all such issues easily and I allow it. But if you want your familiar moving around and doing things, your familiar is a creature.


Or get a handy Haversack and put your Familiar in the sack, then teleport with the object (a sack).

Liberty's Edge

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So, basically what I see you saying is that you make reasonable accommodations for equipment, but not for familiars.

E.G. you assume the word 'teleport' in the description of Dimensional Steps refers to the spell, which states that equipment can be brought along, rather than to the general type of magical effect, which does NOT have a provision for equipment.

Your argument on familiars seems to be, 'otherwise players will abuse the power to make super familiars'. I'd suggest dealing with any such abuse directly if it ever happened... rather than assuming the worst of your players and 'punishing' them in advance.

EDIT in response to NobodysHome edit: In that case, wouldn't the logical course of action have been to rule that the player's character KNEW how their Dimensional Steps ability worked and could have previously spent the trivial sum to procure a pouch for the familiar to teleport within?


Melkiador wrote:
MeanMutton wrote:
So, it's only a separate creature when it's not attached. Dodged one there!

That sounds abusable somehow. If a tumor gets poisoned just have it attach. If you're not a creature you can't be effected by poison. Etc.

And if it's not a creature, then how does it benefit from its fast healing?

So, I've reread it and I now see that is is always a creature, but it's not seperate or independent when a tumor. I guess the question is whether or not being attached and dependent is enough to let it tag along for a teleport.


CBDunkerson wrote:

So, basically what I see you saying is that you make reasonable accommodations for equipment, but not for familiars.

E.G. you assume the word 'teleport' in the description of Dimensional Steps refers to the spell, which states that equipment can be brought along, rather than to the general type of magical effect, which does NOT have a provision for equipment.

Your argument on familiars seems to be, 'otherwise players will abuse the power to make super familiars'. I'd suggest dealing with any such abuse directly if it ever happened... rather than assuming the worst of your players and 'punishing' them in advance.

EDIT in response to NobodysHome edit: In that case, wouldn't the logical course of action have been to rule that the player's character KNEW how their Dimensional Steps ability worked and could have previously spent the trivial sum to procure a pouch for the familiar to teleport within?

I think it's a fair statement: I treat inanimate objects differently from creatures that can take actions. I've allowed people to teleport additional people by stuffing them into a Bag of Holding; once they're in the bag, they are in a separate dimension, cannot take actions, and therefore I just don't mind. It progresses the story, and prevents larger groups from having to buy scrolls of Teleport just because the APs assume a 4-person party.

My argument on familiars is more akin to, "If I start making exceptions for one type of creature, my players will make arguments to allow additional exceptions."
It's been happening incessantly during this campaign. Honestly, we spend nearly 30% of all session time arguing about rules, which is fun for neither me nor my players. I've never run such an argumentative group. So absolutes are a requirement for this particular group of players.

In a more general sense, I still prefer an absolute, "This is a creature and is subject to creature rules" rather than, "A familiar is a special entity that gets special treatment because..."
I still haven't seen an argument as to why a familiar should be treated any differently than any other animal companion.

In short, it's not that "otherwise players will do xxx". It's that:
(a) I need an absolute statement for this particular group, and
(b) I have yet to see a reason to make an exception.

And in terms of my edit, that would have been a WONDERFUL solution, had the player been willing to accept it. He preferred to shut down the game with a rules argument, rather than paying the trivial amount of movement required to bring a familiar along (he was stepping 10' and he was an 8th level wizard) or accepting that the familiar was in a pouch and couldn't act.

I'd prefer to keep it general, rather than specific to my group though: Is there a reason I should allow a wizard's spells to affect a carried familiar, when there's a feat designed to allow exactly that?
I even found a third party spell to address familiars and invisibility...

EDIT FOR CLARITY: I still want to emphasize that as long as the familiar is in some form of container and cannot take actions, I'm totally fine with treating it as an object. The moment it's an independent creature capable of independent actions, it's a creature. And I consider this a concession to playability, rather than a "dual nature" of familiars.

Liberty's Edge

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NobodysHome wrote:
And in terms of my edit, that would have been a WONDERFUL solution, had the player been willing to accept it. He preferred to shut down the game with a rules argument, rather than paying the trivial amount of movement required to bring a familiar along (he was stepping 10' and he was an 8th level wizard) or accepting that the familiar was in a pouch and couldn't act.

Blech. With that amount of rules arguing I'd probably walk away.

Quote:
I'd prefer to keep it general, rather than specific to my group though: Is there a reason I should allow a wizard's spells to affect a carried familiar, when there's a feat designed to allow exactly that?

Some familiars are little more than permanent cargo which never leave the player's side. Thus, from a 'game balance' standpoint there isn't much need to be imposing special restrictions on this one piece of living 'gear' the character has. This is presumably why 'Shift' specifically called out familiars as an exception. Even the 'semi active' familiar that runs messages and goes scouting shouldn't be an 'impediment' that the player needs to make special considerations for.

That said, I wouldn't allow ALL spells to affect the familiar. Just a few like teleports, invisibility, etherealness, et cetera. Essentially treating the familiar like a piece of equipment so long as it is ACTING like a piece of equipment. Once it leaves the nest all bets are off.

Quote:
EDIT FOR CLARITY: I still want to emphasize that as long as the familiar is in some form of container and cannot take actions, I'm totally fine with treating it as an object.

Which is one of several reasonable ways to handle it. I'd have no problem with that approach because the caster is able to bring their familiar along safely. If they want the familiar out and about doing things in combat then that is their choice to risk it.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Hmmm, an eccentric wizard that keeps trying to shove her goat familiar into a purse so she can turn invisible.

Perhaps I should get some sleep...


Sounds like this player should get one of those "familiar tokens" or similar items.

I know its a metagame item, but didnt they add a "ingame" item for this sort of thing too?


Well, I e-mailed him and he's good with this particular solution.

But it is amusing that I schedule all my other games, but refuse to schedule this one so it only runs once every 8 weeks or so, and the players involved always ask, "Why don't we play more often?"

At the moment, it is impossible to find a diplomatic way to say, "Because in all the other games I run, my players and I get along splendidly and try to play the game together, and in this game it's nothing but a contest with you constantly trying to push the boundaries of what your character can do."

It's a different dynamic, and definitely less-than-fun.

(My favorite-ever story about this particular player was when he was in a different GM's game, listed the half-dozen actions he wanted to take in a single round, the GM said, "Really?", listed off all of the actions, and said, "And you're going to do all of that. In just 6 seconds," and the player proceeded to say, "Oh, yeah! It's absolutely possible! Watch!" and stood up and tried to pantomime it all out to justify 6 actions in a round. Priceless times...)

EDIT: And as long as we're playing, "Blame the player, not the lack of clarity in the rules", I had no problem with the player's original familiar (a chicken). It was once he took Improved Familiar and started having his familiar try to be very active in combat that I started clamping down. And I think that's another problem: Inconsistency. When the familiar is useless, you as a GM tend to ignore it. Then the player takes Improved Familiar, gets a familiar that can actually DO things, you start clamping down on when the familiar is a creature and when it's an object, and the player (rightfully) objects that you're changing the rules mid-campaign. Another strong reason I want to adjudicate this in absolutes, rather than on a situation-by-situation basis.

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