Guide to Familiars in Pathfinder by SunderedShadow


Advice

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Sunderedshadow, you have permission to use any of my characters and stories in your guides.

My bloodrager Val Baine will be known to anyone who played the Iron Gods adventure path. The 1st module includes her as the 13-year-old Kellid-barbarian daughter of the missing wizard Khonnir Baine who offers the party free room and board at her father's inn and workshop, the Foundry Tavern. Two of my players chose the Local Ties campaign trait, and fitting their character's into Khonnir's background aged Val to 17 years old. I thought her age would not matter, declared her an apprentice wizard, and then the players decided that she was old enough to join the party. Bloodrager was the closest class to a wizard/barbarian hybrid. The full story is at Iron Gods among Scientists.

Val did not start with a familiar, though if I had known of the bloodline familiar option, she would have. My goal was to make her as wizard-like as possible. She acquired the familiar in the 2nd module, Lords of Rust, after I learned about bloodline familiars from the Paizo forums. The middle of the story ought to be behind a spoiler mask.

Lords of Rust:
The party entered the bandit-camp/junkyard named Scrapwall by pretending to be Numerian archeologists hiding from the Technic League. Instead of fighting their way up the hierarchy of gangs in Scrapwall, they settled in with golem-making cleric Dinvaya Lanalei and tried to peacefully meet their neighbors. They avoided the strongest gang, the Lords of Rust, until 7th level. Before that, they cleared the haunts out of Scrapwall's haunted valley and discovered the irreparable wrecked shuttle-sized spaceship there. My wife's character, the gadgeteer gunslinger/rogue dwarf Boffin, made plans to salvage and repair that spaceship.

My wife realized the spaceship would need a pilot, so she talked over the possiblility of taking the Leadership feat at 7th level to recruit a pilot. We decided the most plausible surviving pilot would be a repair drone robot programmed as a driver for the excavator that the Lords of Rust had made into their headquarters. I would add the robot to the collection of robots in the Lord of Rust area.

Boffin gaining a Leadership cohort could slightly imbalance the dynamics of the party. And it did, for the fighter in the party began treating a non-cohort NPC ally from the Steel Hawks gang as a minion, not yet realizing the special loyalty created by the Leadership feat. Giving Val her long-overdue familiar would help illustrate the special bonds of cohorts, familiars, animal companions, and special mounts.

The rulebooks lacked a robotic familiar for Val, to match Boffin's robotic cohort, but it did have a clockwork familiar. Val was a mechanic and her new friend Dinvaya Lanalei specialized in clockwork, so clockwork fit the story. She encountered the tiny clockwork dragon Sparky in the same place that Boffin encountered her robot pilot.

The party was gearing up for mundane crafting, using the faster Making Craft Work rules. Val was designed as a crafting assistant, needing to reliably roll +10 for Aid Another in six different Craft skills despite being the not-as-smart blonde in the party with Intelligence only 12. Putting 3 ranks in each skill would be expensive, and some would need more than 3 for her own crafting. The clockwork familiar's Advice ability, +2 to all craft checks, was worth the Improved Familiar feat. For her own crafting, the valet familiar archetype was tempting. It was also illegal, since Sparky lacked Speak with Animals of its Kind to swap out. Instead, Sparky lost its ability to speak to anyone besides its master, Val. This selfish choice meant one fewer speaking part for me to play.

Sparky had a lot of unused abilities: DR 5/adamantine; Immune construct traits; Resist cold 10, fire 10, and Item Installation (currently set to Protection from Law) from clockwork, and Able Assistant, Teammate, Move while Delivering Touch Spells, Deliver Aid, and Aide to All from valet. I tried using Sparky in combat--a full BAB is a shame to waste--but found no effective method, especially given the difficulty of healing a construct. Nevertheless, Val likes Sparky flying at her side, so Teammate allowed Improved Spell Sharing to share her defensive spells.

Sparky is mute so would be a terrible messenger. Other party members can fly and don't need another scout. Sunderedshadow recommended Evolved Familiar to give Sparky the Reach evolution to flank and Aid Another and deliver touch spells without provoking AoO in combat. I briefly considered the cheesy combination of switching Item Installation to a 30-foot ranged attack so that Sparky could use Covering Fire teamwork feat to give Val a +2 AC bonus. Target of Opportunity for extra ranged attacks would be even cheesier.

The party pretends to be ordinary 1st-level townsfolk back in their hometown of Torch. Okay, rich townsfolk. Sparky travels in Val's familiar satchel in town, poking a weasel puppet's head out of the satchel so that Val appears to have a 1st-level wizard's animal familiar. Sparky copies Val's 12 ranks in Bluff. For the inspection at the gates of Starfall, she used Beast Shape II to reshape Sparky into a snapping turtle and her 6 ranks in Disguise to hide its clockwork.


I have a second familiar to describe, because Sunderedshadow's Guide to Familiars in Pathfinder has already been useful. In the next game session, the party will encounter an enslaved Tian smuggler named Xuma. I would have made her a rogue or an expert, but looking over "How do I get a Familiar?", I spotted the Kami Medium archetype for Medium. I am slowly teaching myself the occult classes by making occult NPCs.

Xuma's day job was wagonneer but she smuggled contraband on the side. She channeled trickster spirits found at crossroads and roadside milestones to help in this endeavor. At 3rd level, she gained a convenient trick for escaping prison: she can fold a piece of paper into an origami monkey familiar animated by a trickster spirit, who can often fetch a key or lockpick for her to break out. Jailers seldom confiscated paper, and just in case, she sewed some paper into her clothes. The monkey could also run away with small contraband, such as drugs, if guards began to search her wagon.

Three years ago, she was caught by the Technic League when smuggling Numerian technology. Instead of jailing her, they sent her as a slave to a secret project in Silver Mount. She needs paper to cast her cantrips or fold her familiar, but she has none. The party is encountering the slaves in Silver Mount, freeing them when possible, and will soon encounter Xuma. Her begging for paper and making a paper familiar will make it a notable encounter.

The Kami Medium's origami familiar has much in common with the Figment archetype. It is a temporary familiar because the channeled spirt leaves when the medium sleeps. Whether destroying the animated paper kills the spirit (the description says nothing about that) matters only for a day, because the medium can channel a different spirit the next morning.


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Took a day off to just do my own thing. (HFY on Reddit can be addicting)

1) A question to everyone who has suggested the "types" of familiars. What hard numbers do you want to suggest as the minimums to aim for?

2) I have put a few samples of what I was thinking today down in Fliers & Aquatics. I just can't see the "Gliders" being anything more than a steaming pile so won't bother that group.

3) Did a few wording updates, added in a few things Id been informed of (or found) that I missed.

4) Deciding where to put a few sample familiar stories in, might use them as fillers where there is blank space, might try some art there to liven the guide up and put all the stories in one area. Thoughts??

5) I thank you all for helping me make this a better guide than it started at. I laugh at myself for thinking this would stop at 10 pages, now I am honestly thinking it will likely hit about 30 or more before I'm done.


SunderedShadow wrote:

@Mathmuse, John Mechalas, Tink_, Avr & anyone else willin to take part.

If any of you are willing to give some backstories behind why your wizards have the familiar they do (including the wizards & familiars names) id like to add them to the guide.. I think that little bit of detail flavor is missing from a lot of familiars I've seen get played.

Sure thing. I'll PM you when I have something ready to share.


I noticed from starting to read your Familiar guide that you have a new Wizard guide in progress. Have you introduced this anywhere yet (Paizo Messageboards or otherwise)?


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

I noticed from starting to read your Familiar guide that you have a new Wizard guide in progress. Have you introduced this anywhere yet (Paizo Messageboards or otherwise)?

Actually that wizard's guide has been my project for 2 years or so, its actually what spawned off half the other guides I've been working on.

The Familiar's Guide was originally about 3-5 pages cut and pasted out of my Wizards one, its kind of taken a life of its own. I also have several others all that have been cut out of the Wizards guide into their own thing I am working on. This is the only one I shared to start with because its the one I want as my primary focus. Once this guide is done I will start to share some of the others as well.


Finally got finish reading the Familiar guide itself.

General: Change "poppit" to "poppet" (multiple instances, in various places).

Under Classes that can get Familiars, for consistency, when you put "Druid, Core: Depends on Domain Choice (see above)", also put the equivalent in for Cleric just above.

As a practical matter, for links to online sources, you might want to use Archives of Nethys (for instance their Familiar Archetypes page) instead of www.d20pfsrd.com, which seems to keep breaking links, including its own. At least do this until the www.d20pfsrd.com people get their site straightened out. (However, some things found there may not be on Archives of Nethys at all, or may be missing some information there(*), although I have also found that the reverse happens sometimes.)

(*)This includes at least some of the creatures that can be Familiars, so those that I linked below I left pointing to www.d20pfsrd.com instead of redirecting them.

Pilferer archetype: Where you have 2/3 BAB, you probably want 3/4 BAB.

Familiars, Basic: Flying: Where you have "All fly speeds are Average unless otherwise noted", don't you mean "All maneuverability ratings are Average unless otherwise noted"?

Same section: What is a Snark? Never heard of this before, and can't find it on www.d20pfsrd.com or Archives of Nethys.

Familiars, Basic Aquatic Type: Seal is missing its land speed of 10'.

Level 3 Templates: Celestial needs a comma before "& Smite Evil" (you already did this for the other templates).

Level 5 Improved Familiar Options: Carbuncle is spelled wrong.

Just noticed something in the rules: The Improved Familiar text (on both www.d20pfsrd.com and Archives of Nethys) says "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)" -- taken absolutely strictly, this would mean that many Improved Familiars would have their Intelligence degraded until you get to a high level.


Tink would be honoured to be included in the guide.
Blue would be quite happy too.

SunderedShadow wrote:
4) Deciding where to put a few sample familiar stories in, might use them as fillers where there is blank space, might try some art there to liven the guide up and put all the stories in one area. Thoughts??

I quite like the idea of sort of having both.

A small picture with the story around it if that makes sense.
A single or two paragraph story and a small picture of the scene, or something close.

Also, how would you like us to provide the stories?
Are you looking for a story about why the wizard has a familiar?
Something to consider might be to have stories of the interaction of the wizard and familiar in play.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

Finally got finish reading the Familiar guide itself.

Just noticed something in the rules: The Improved Familiar text (on both www.d20pfsrd.com and Archives of Nethys) says "Improved familiars otherwise use the rules for regular...

--------------

Cleric: Core added again (feed now sovereign glued in place).
Pilferer Archetype: Typo Fixed. (somehow lost wallet)
Familiar, Basic Flying: Wording Fixed. (Raven still loops Nevermore)
Carbuncle given extra classes to fix spelling. (he is not happy)
Celestial Template: grammar fixed. (complaints received about them being better than that)
Snark: Source Ironfang Invasion.
Seal: Training reinforced, now behaves on land
Poppits destroyed, replaced by Poppets.
Improved Familiar: I feel I am missing something here but that may be due to still being tired.

UnArcaneElection wrote:


As a practical matter, for links to online sources, you might want to use Archives of Nethys (for instance their Familiar Archetypes page) instead of www.d20pfsrd.com, which seems to keep breaking links, including its own. At least do this until the www.d20pfsrd.com people get their site straightened out. (However, some things found there may not be on Archives of Nethys at all, or may be missing some information there(*), although I have also found that the reverse happens sometimes.)

(*)This includes at least some of the creatures that can be Familiars, so those that I linked below I left pointing to www.d20pfsrd.com instead of redirecting them.

Will consider the adjustment, I've used d20pfsrd for so long compared to archives it will just need me doing a bit of a mental switch as to where to go.


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Tink_ wrote:

Tink would be honoured to be included in the guide.

Blue would be quite happy too.

SunderedShadow wrote:
4) Deciding where to put a few sample familiar stories in, might use them as fillers where there is blank space, might try some art there to liven the guide up and put all the stories in one area. Thoughts??

I quite like the idea of sort of having both.

A small picture with the story around it if that makes sense.
A single or two paragraph story and a small picture of the scene, or something close.

Also, how would you like us to provide the stories?
Are you looking for a story about why the wizard has a familiar?
Something to consider might be to have stories of the interaction of the wizard and familiar in play.

1) Artwork is great, but don't steal content without providing source (I will always provide source of any artwork used)

2) 3 paragraphs at most regarding stories of why you have familiar, how you acquired familiar, or yes how you have interacted with the familiar (I liked that idea).


I just accidentally created a mini-review of Wizard Arcane School Powers, if you're interested for when you get back to work on your Wizard guide.


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UnArcaneElection wrote:

I just accidentally created a mini-review of Wizard Arcane School Powers, if you're interested for when you get back to work on your Wizard guide.

I understand on accidentally created for a guide.. this thing started as a few page blurb from the wizards guide and kind of exploded. I Will look over that mini-review most likely as I haven't reviewed all the schools yet in my guide.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Status on Familiar Guide
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Its still being worked on, I put off progressing into new territory until I finished cleaning up what was already there. Am now polishing up the Ground based familiars adding what I think of them, then will move on to adding the higher tier familiars.

I also thank you all for your encouragement and support so far and hope that it continues.


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Got the base list started for the Improved Familiars of 7th level or higher (more of them than I thought once I started digging). I've got notes on some but am going to be slowed down doing a bit of research on others. Still progress is good.


Sorry on the sudden delay going on, dealing with a bedbug infestation and attempting to acquire the new wilderness book that came out for additional familiar information. Am still working, just slower than I want.


Back at the guide again, slowly adding the 7th level familiars in, added in the archetypes, familiars & feats from Ultimate Wilderness.

For Scouts I decided they needed a minimum combined total of +20 for Stealth & Perception, as well as a minimum speed of 30'

For Protectors I am trying to shoot for them having a base Dex of 16+ so they can use their abilities at least x3 per round.

I am keeping the saving throw weighting to favor Fort & Will equally, but both more than Reflex saves. I find that failing Fort or Will saves have much worse consequences compared to failing a reflex save.


It would be nice if you marked the sources.

I've never seen the prankster archetype for familiars (only gnomish bards, but those'd be cohorts, not familiars), and Margay cats seem to be 3pp, as far as I can tell.


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Rajnish Umbra, Shadow Caller wrote:

It would be nice if you marked the sources.

I've never seen the prankster archetype for familiars (only gnomish bards, but those'd be cohorts, not familiars), and Margay cats seem to be 3pp, as far as I can tell.

Those are both in Ultimate Wilderness, Pages 193 and 212 to be specific.


Ah, thanks...

Oooohhh, interesting to note: As far as I can tell, Prankster is compatible with Improved Familiar, since it does not replace "Speak with animals of its kind"...


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SunderedShadow wrote:

I am keeping the saving throw weighting to favor Fort & Will equally, but both more than Reflex saves. I find that failing Fort or Will saves have much worse consequences compared to failing a reflex save.

Not sure I would agree with this saving throw weighting. While I agree with the received wisdom in save weighting: Will (failure can kill your party) > Fortitude (failure cam kill you) > Reflex (failure will cost you HP), I think circumstances need a bit more thought.

In 90% or so of cases, reflex is a weak save for a class with a familiar - and they often have low HP besides, which adds value to a reflex bonus. Conversely, Will is generally a strong save for such Classes, reducing the value of a bonus. Finally, Fortitude, is also often a weak save for classes with familiars. I would say Fortitude most valuable, with Reflex and Will save bonuses tied at a level below.


I think the ratings are overly detailed as there only needs to be 3 ratings for regular familiars (Good, Average, Poor). Improved Familiars could stick to that rating system with notes about their powers and where they work best.

If you want a rating system that uses INIT, saves, skill bonuses, just create a metric(formula) and use that. Such as this simple one showing the format;
Value=4*(INIT Bonus) +3*(Will save bonus) +2*(Relx or Fort save bonus or speaks common) +1(skill bonuses or other) +(AC-10) +Ability bonuses +(attack bonus)*(1@d4 or less, 2@d6, 3@d8 or more).
You can then characterize the scores as good(top 25%), average(next 50% of scores), poor(lowest 25%).


I notice at the top of the guide that you're still updating it. For Medium archetypes, the Kami Medium and Outer Channeler both link to the Kami Medium.

Also you seem to be missing the Spirit Binder archetype for the Wizard class. It's notable because your familiar chooses any one class (for example, Paladin) and uses that class to determine its base attack bonus and saves.


Did anyone check out the Changeling Familiar feat? Suddenly, you have a familiar that can be a buddy, and if it's an outsider, use weapons!


Some comments on the guide:

You mention poison not being strong. Most poison has a DC that is affected by HD, which means the pseudo HD makes the poison stronger.
Per my post Poison DC will scale.

There is another neat trick for a Figment Familiar: get a Collar of Sacrifice. This gives you a 1/day get out of death effect.

Mathmuse complained of his Bloodrager, Val Baine, of being unable to heal a clockwork familiar. Turns out it is actually easy. The spells Celestial Healing and Infernal Healing both work, as they do not target a living creature but rather give fast healing. The spells Make Whole (& greater) and Rapid Repair also work, but are not on the Bloodrager's spell list. These spells work on all constructs. A more expensive way exists to give constructs fast healing, and there is a magic item that does this as well.

/cevah


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Cevah wrote:

Some comments on the guide:

There is another neat trick for a Figment Familiar: get a Collar of Sacrifice. This gives you a 1/day get out of death effect.

/cevah

Not sure that this works - Collar of Sacrifice has language that says "This item does not work if worn by familiars who do not have a physical life force, such as undead or construct familiars."

and Figment familiars have this language "If a figment ever strays more than 100 feet from its master or enters an antimagic field, or if a figment’s master is unconscious or asleep, the figment disappears until the next time its master prepares spells or regains her spells per day. Because it is a being of its master’s mind, a figment can never serve as a witch’s familiar, a shaman’s spirit animal, or any other spell-granting familiar, and it can’t use any divination spells or spell-like abilities the base creature has."

So I think it might be argued that figment familiars don't have a usual physical life force but equally that there is a timing issue here - the figment may cease to exist at the same time as the familiar's master dies - so may not "exist" for the collar of sacrifice to trigger as it has to wait until after the master is "slain".

Or to put another way - the figment doesn't appear to have a separate "life force" from that of the master of the figment.

Certainly as a GM in a home game I wouldn't allow this particular combo (and in PFS the collar of sacrifice isn't legal so not an issue in PFS).


I will grant you the timing issue could make the combo fail.

As to being a living creature, does Cure Light Wounds work on the familiar? If so, then it is living.

I will also give you the "not-a-separate-life-force" as a potential problem, but I don't agree with that. Your HP does not go up, nor do you suffer because the figment goes away.

Still, it is a diabolical thing to do. :-)

/cevah


Cevah wrote:

Mathmuse complained of his Bloodrager, Val Baine, of being unable to heal a clockwork familiar. Turns out it is actually easy. The spells Celestial Healing and Infernal Healing both work, as they do not target a living creature but rather give fast healing. The spells Make Whole (& greater) and Rapid Repair also work, but are not on the Bloodrager's spell list. These spells work on all constructs. A more expensive way exists to give constructs fast healing, and there is a magic item that does this as well.

/cevah

Cevah kindly alerted me to his comment so that I could respond.

One problem with thread necromancy is that I look uninformed because I did not know about the Chirugeon Cube that Cevah suggested as a method of healing constructs. The Chirugeon Cube is from the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Construct Handbook published in November 2018. This thread was from November 2017, one year before that.

None of Celestial Healing, Infernal Healing, Make Whole, Greater Make Whole, nor Rapid Repair are on the bloodrager spell list. But a bloodrager with a clockwork familiar is a very weird case. I myself squeezed Make Whole onto Val Baine's spell list by means of a homebrew archetype. I also let her use her Craft(clockwork) skill to make repairs in a well-stocked workshop using the same rules as Treat Deadly Wounds with the Heal skill. We had turbocharged mundane crafting for that Iron Gods campaign.

I am bewildered that positive energy cannot healing a construct yet adding celectial or infernal blood to a creature that does not use blood will heal it. That blood must be powerful stuff. Or the authors of the Celestial and Infernal Healing spells forgot the "living" restriction and we can take advantage of that oversight.

Building Self-Repair into a clockwork familiar is an interesting idea. Val Baine acquired her clockwork familiar through Improved Familar rather than Craft Construct, so she did not have the feats to modify it. Her 7th-level NPC friend Dinvaya Lanalei is a construct crafter, but Self-Repair explicitly calls for Caster Level 12. Maybe one day Dinvaya will reach 12th level. How would adding abilities to a construct familiar affect game balance? Self-Repair is a CR +1, so I guess it would be equivalent to choosing a familiar of a higher CR.


No worries about not knowing stuff that occurs in the future. I usually don't know myself. :-)

Following your link to Celestial Healing indicates it is on your list.
Following your link to Infernal Healing indicates it is not on your list.
The SRD's Bloodrager list shows both Celestial Healing and Infernal Healing on your list.

AoN, however indicates them on the Bloodrager list, and each spell (Celestial Healing & Infernal Healing) indicates being on your list.

You say Self-Repair requires CL 12. Where? I don't see it. Also, the CL can be supplied by another just like a spell can.

/cevah


Cevah wrote:

No worries about not knowing stuff that occurs in the future. I usually don't know myself. :-)

Following your link to Celestial Healing indicates it is on your list.
Following your link to Infernal Healing indicates it is not on your list.
The SRD's Bloodrager list shows both Celestial Healing and Infernal Healing on your list.

AoN, however indicates them on the Bloodrager list, and each spell (Celestial Healing & Infernal Healing) indicates being on your list.

You say Self-Repair requires CL 12. Where? I don't see it. Also, the CL can be supplied by another just like a spell can.

/cevah

Sorry, I was exhausted while writing my comment and made some mistakes. I am still exhausted, so this might not be correct either.

I had checked the link for Infernal Healing but not Celestial Healing and falsely assumed Celestial Healing was the same. I guess I had passed up that spell when selecting spells for Val Baine.

The caster level 12 was not on Self-Repair but on Clockwork Familiar. Sorry about that. And it wasn't the standard CL 12 for difficulty. The construction requirements said, "Requirements Craft Construct, geas/quest, make whole, creator must be at least caster level 12th; Skill Craft (clockwork) DC 20; Cost 7,500 gp." I had both pages open and looked at the wrong one for requirements. Would modifying an existing clockwork familiar to add Self-Repair include the requirements for making the clockwork familiar from scratch? No, the rules don't mention anything like that:

d20pfsrd, Building and Modifying Constructs wrote:

Construct Modifications

Standard constructs can be modified to enhance their base abilities, alter their appearance or function, or perform a variety of tasks beyond the intentions of their basic designs. Performing a modification provides a construct’s creator with a simple way to create a unique construct. A modification can only be performed while the construct is inanimate or nonfunctioning. Performing modifications on one’s own construct requires the Craft Construct feat, and the creator must pay any additional crafting requirements and/or costs associated with the modification. Completing a modification requires 1 day per 1,000 gp of the modification’s base price (minimum 1 day).

So Dinvaya could make Val Baine's clockwork familiar Sparky self-repairing. Val would have gone for that. In fact, she had Renewed Vigor as a rage power via Primalist archetype, so she and Sparky would be more alike if they both had limited heal-on-demand.


I understand not wanting Celestial Healing at low level. It is a poor spell, especially compared to Infernal Healing. So I suggest getting a Page of Spell Knowledge. For 1000 gp, you add a 1st level spell known, so you can now do some healing.

I note that the Bloodrager does not have the usual late start reduction of caster level like Rangers and Paladins have. This is definate bonus for you.

As to late night mental laxity, it is something I fall prey to as well. No worries. :-)

/cevah

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