How do I properly stat my familiar?


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Are the familiar formulas all we have to go off of? Or do we use the animal companion stat blocks as a basis, which is then modified per the familiar rules?

I'm wondering if my cat familiar can even take the strike action.

The familiar rules just seem really incomplete to me.


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I had similar questions. According to James Jacobs the Familiars are entirely defined by the familiar rules. Any stat blocks for the animal they are based on are irrelevant so they have no natural attacks at all.

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Familiars don't get anything besides what is listed. There are no freebies.

Flying familiars must take flier familiar ability for example.

So essentially all familiars are custom creation.


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SO they have attack rolls...but no damage rolls...?????


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Ravingdork wrote:
SO they have attack rolls...but no damage rolls...?????

Those rules probably only apply if you use your Familiar's Spell Delivery ability to attack your enemies.


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Guess I'll write unarmed strike for now...

That's totally lame. Really breaks suspension of disbelief for me.


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Huh if they can't. I'm less sure what an Alchemist's familiar is that useful for in comparison to other lv 1 feats . Huh.


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Ravingdork wrote:

Guess I'll write unarmed strike for now...

That's totally lame. Really breaks suspension of disbelief for me.

Apparently they don't get any attacks of their own.

James Jacobs wrote:
Familiars don't have their own attacks. In 2nd edition, they're not intended to be combat buddies; that's the role of an animal companion, not a familiar. In time, as we expand the game, we'll eventually expand familiar options as well, and that might include the option of giving them attacks, but as of the base game, familiars don't have attacks—again, because they're not intended to be combat buddies in that way.


Zwordsman wrote:
Huh if they can't. I'm less sure what an Alchemist's familiar is that useful for in comparison to other lv 1 feats . Huh.

I'm not caught up on Alchemists, but wouldn't the Manual Dexterity/Lab Assistant combo be useful?

There's also the Extra Reagents ability, or extra senses like Scent to help target bombs at invisible or hidden opponents.


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Gisher wrote:
Zwordsman wrote:
Huh if they can't. I'm less sure what an Alchemist's familiar is that useful for in comparison to other lv 1 feats . Huh.

I'm not caught up on Alchemists, but wouldn't the Manual Dexterity/Lab Assistant combo be useful?

There's also the Extra Reagents ability, or extra senses like Scent to help target bombs at invisible or hidden opponents.

On a turn where you're commanding your familiar you only get 2 actions (which presumably are being used to either draw and use an item or Quick Alchemy and use an item,) so if the familiar is using Lab Assistant it would probably have to apply the item too. This isn't horrible for Elixirs, but if you're doing something like bombing that means that the familiar needs to make the attack roll, and its attack rolls probably aren't great given its only bonus is your Proficiency modifier (fortunately including level, but even still). And of course giving your Familiar Lab Assistant takes both of your familiar abilities for the day so that's probably about the only thing it can do. Maybe useful for some Alchemists (like, I can see why the example Mutagenist has a Familiar now, spending 1 action to make/retrieve and drink a Mutagen is pretty good for them) but for a lot of alchemists it's probably not great.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Familiars don't have their own attacks. In 2nd edition, they're not intended to be combat buddies; that's the role of an animal companion, not a familiar. In time, as we expand the game, we'll eventually expand familiar options as well, and that might include the option of giving them attacks, but as of the base game, familiars don't have attacks—again, because they're not intended to be combat buddies in that way.

>C

Really breaks suspension of disbelief for me.

Can my character not take a dump either just because there are no rules for it?

2E crossed a line with me on this.


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Ravingdork wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
Familiars don't have their own attacks. In 2nd edition, they're not intended to be combat buddies; that's the role of an animal companion, not a familiar. In time, as we expand the game, we'll eventually expand familiar options as well, and that might include the option of giving them attacks, but as of the base game, familiars don't have attacks—again, because they're not intended to be combat buddies in that way.

>C

Really breaks suspension of disbelief for me.

Can my character not take a dump either just because there are no rules for it?

2E crossed a line with me on this.

Cats, toads, and ravens not being able to successfully attack and have any chance of killing an overweight 50 year old woman breaks your suspension of belief? I think you had this one backwards before Paizo dialed it back to realism.


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Not that, the raven not being able to kill the toad or the cat being unable to harm the rat is what breaks my suspension of disbelief.

No attack mechanics apparently means no attacks, ever, against anything.

It would have been better if they kept attacks in, but limited it to 1 damage (or 1 nonlethal damage against anything larger than they) or something like that. At least that would have been a little more realistic.


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Ravingdork wrote:

Not that, the raven not being able to kill the toad or the cat being unable to harm the rat is what breaks my suspension of disbelief.

No attack mechanics apparently means no attacks, ever, against anything.

It would have been better if they kept attacks in, but limited it to 1 damage (or 1 nonlethal damage against anything larger than they) or something like that. At least that would have been a little more realistic.

For me I think my issue is that a familiar literally can't fight it's way out of a paper bag: it's 100% unable to damage paper or thin cloth.


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Shinigami02 wrote:
Gisher wrote:
Zwordsman wrote:
Huh if they can't. I'm less sure what an Alchemist's familiar is that useful for in comparison to other lv 1 feats . Huh.

I'm not caught up on Alchemists, but wouldn't the Manual Dexterity/Lab Assistant combo be useful?

There's also the Extra Reagents ability, or extra senses like Scent to help target bombs at invisible or hidden opponents.

On a turn where you're commanding your familiar you only get 2 actions (which presumably are being used to either draw and use an item or Quick Alchemy and use an item,) so if the familiar is using Lab Assistant it would probably have to apply the item too. This isn't horrible for Elixirs, but if you're doing something like bombing that means that the familiar needs to make the attack roll, and its attack rolls probably aren't great given its only bonus is your Proficiency modifier (fortunately including level, but even still). And of course giving your Familiar Lab Assistant takes both of your familiar abilities for the day so that's probably about the only thing it can do. Maybe useful for some Alchemists (like, I can see why the example Mutagenist has a Familiar now, spending 1 action to make/retrieve and drink a Mutagen is pretty good for them) but for a lot of alchemists it's probably not great.

This is actually pretty cool. I thought familiars worked off of Animal Companion rules so this helps sort things out a lot. Bummer that they can’t attack, but they’ll probably address this in APG with the Witch being known for her Familiar.

Liberty's Edge

It states that if the familiar makes an attack, it has a bonus equal to your level. I assumed that meant there were attacks the familiar can make. Also, does the manipulate ability allow use of weapons ranged or melee?


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pendothrax wrote:
It states that if the familiar makes an attack, it has a bonus equal to your level. I assumed that meant there were attacks the familiar can make. Also, does the manipulate ability allow use of weapons ranged or melee?

Familiars can make attack rolls to deliver spells, if they are given that ability. No other attacks are defined for them.


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pendothrax wrote:

It states that if the familiar makes an attack, it has a bonus equal to your level. I assumed that meant there were attacks the familiar can make. Also, does the manipulate ability allow use of weapons ranged or melee?

That's a thought. They're not really missing attacks so much as the damage. Weapons would give them the damage.

There's that I guess.


I think it would be an easy homebrew to have familiar's do primary stat as dmg.

Because they are effectively a piece of your soul/body (caster/alchemist) that move autonomously in most cases.


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I'm surprised they didn't at least give them Playtest Pest Form's 1 piercing damage natural attack. Not sure what huge exploit they were avoiding by stripping this bit of realism.


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Seriously. The moment one of my player's says his cat pounces or his bird pecks, and I respond with "it can't," I've lost that player.


Familiars seem pretty lame.


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From perusing the Bestiary, I realized that it has no combat capable Tiny animals at all except for swarms.

It would be reasonable to assume that a familiar is physically incapable of harming a PC or a creature from the Bestiary unless that creature has somehow been rendered defenseless, but that it can harm other Tiny creatures with similarly undefined combat stats. Since a familiar does have a defined number of hit points, it should have a massive advantage against a standard Tiny animal in such a fight.

In other words -- if a familiar gets into a fight with a creature that it could reasonably defeat in combat, you are in house rule territory already since we have no official stats for such creatures.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Seriously. The moment one of my player's says his cat pounces or his bird pecks, and I respond with "it can't," I've lost that player.

But they can - they just won’t be able to do anything against anything moderately threatening which is why there are no rolls

So a cat has no chance of hurting a wolf or a armoured man. As would be expected

Didn’t there use to be threads commenting on how a common house cat would KILL a common villager every single time in a fight per the rules . This doesn’t and never made sense.

Is the complaint really that there aren’t forensic rules on how a cat can fight off a dog or hunt a rat? Because that really is beyond the scope of a heroic adventure game by most people’s definitions


I have a question regarding familiars: Can they take twice the same ability? I'm thinking about extra reagent. It's written nowhere in familiar rules, but in general it's not allowed to take twice the same option in the game, unless specified.

Also, does manual dexterity allow a familiar to use an elixir on someone? On paper, it should, but does a familiar has an inventory? It needs to store the said elixir somewhere.


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I'm making a wizard with the improved familiar attunement thesis (he was studying using squirrels to deliver spells). I'm quite looking foward to my squirrelly Wizard (even though he will never likely get played).

Has anyone made a familiar character sheet? I can't find one in the Character Sheet Pack.


David knott 242 wrote:
pendothrax wrote:
It states that if the familiar makes an attack, it has a bonus equal to your level. I assumed that meant there were attacks the familiar can make. Also, does the manipulate ability allow use of weapons ranged or melee?

Familiars can make attack rolls to deliver spells, if they are given that ability. No other attacks are defined for them.

I believe an attack roll is a way to escape a grapple. They could do that.


Zwordsman wrote:
Huh if they can't. I'm less sure what an Alchemist's familiar is that useful for in comparison to other lv 1 feats . Huh.

Its actually kinda nice at low level. You can give it the produce an infused reagent ability which you can use to make two alchemical things during downtime or one with quick alchemy.

At early levels an extra two free alchemy items is pretty large boost to utility or combat.

At later levels when it matters less you can switch it to lab assistant+nimble hands and you can use it to make and deliver things on the fly while you do other stuff.

Dark Archive

If it can be attacked then it should have stats to defend itself

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It has aç.


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Lanathar wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Seriously. The moment one of my player's says his cat pounces or his bird pecks, and I respond with "it can't," I've lost that player.

But they can - they just won’t be able to do anything against anything moderately threatening which is why there are no rolls

So a cat has no chance of hurting a wolf or a armoured man. As would be expected

Didn’t there use to be threads commenting on how a common house cat would KILL a common villager every single time in a fight per the rules . This doesn’t and never made sense.

Is the complaint really that there aren’t forensic rules on how a cat can fight off a dog or hunt a rat? Because that really is beyond the scope of a heroic adventure game by most people’s definitions

It's not the concept I have a problem with, it's the lack of any ability to deal any damage at all.

Some GMs are stricter than others, and the lack of any sort of rule is going to be enforced at a lot of tables, even if it doesn't make sense.

Xenocrat wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
pendothrax wrote:
It states that if the familiar makes an attack, it has a bonus equal to your level. I assumed that meant there were attacks the familiar can make. Also, does the manipulate ability allow use of weapons ranged or melee?

Familiars can make attack rolls to deliver spells, if they are given that ability. No other attacks are defined for them.

I believe an attack roll is a way to escape a grapple. They could do that.

Grappling is all skill checks now I believe.


They added an attack option to escape as an option for those without proficiency. Or so they said prerelease, I haven’t looked at those rules yet.


Yeah, the Escape action uses Unarmed Attack against grapple DC.


David knott 242 wrote:
From perusing the Bestiary, I realized that it has no combat capable Tiny animals at all except for swarms.

This means that familiars/tiny animals can't get through any kind of barrier: a rat familiar is physically incapable of chewing through a sheet of paper as it seems it has to gum it's food... :P


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Ravingdork wrote:
Lanathar wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Seriously. The moment one of my player's says his cat pounces or his bird pecks, and I respond with "it can't," I've lost that player.

But they can - they just won’t be able to do anything against anything moderately threatening which is why there are no rolls

So a cat has no chance of hurting a wolf or a armoured man. As would be expected

Didn’t there use to be threads commenting on how a common house cat would KILL a common villager every single time in a fight per the rules . This doesn’t and never made sense.

Is the complaint really that there aren’t forensic rules on how a cat can fight off a dog or hunt a rat? Because that really is beyond the scope of a heroic adventure game by most people’s definitions

It's not the concept I have a problem with, it's the lack of any ability to deal any damage at all.

Some GMs are stricter than others, and the lack of any sort of rule is going to be enforced at a lot of tables, even if it doesn't make sense.

Xenocrat wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
pendothrax wrote:
It states that if the familiar makes an attack, it has a bonus equal to your level. I assumed that meant there were attacks the familiar can make. Also, does the manipulate ability allow use of weapons ranged or melee?

Familiars can make attack rolls to deliver spells, if they are given that ability. No other attacks are defined for them.

I believe an attack roll is a way to escape a grapple. They could do that.
Grappling is all skill checks now I believe.

Were you rolling attack rolls for your cat catching mice before? If so, you had a weird game.

Grand Lodge

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That's really not the point.
The point is a familiar SHOULD be able to do so, even if a player realistically wouldn't normally.

Maybe the GM wants a plothook and thieves steal your familiar. Is it really SO unreasonable to say your familiar will do whatever is within its power to escape, including attacking?


Syries wrote:

That's really not the point.

The point is a familiar SHOULD be able to do so, even if a player realistically wouldn't normally.

Maybe the GM wants a plothook and thieves steal your familiar. Is it really SO unreasonable to say your familiar will do whatever is within its power to escape, including attacking?

He can attack to escape the grapple and run away. He can't realistically attack to kill anyone.

Grand Lodge

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therein lies another issue. Apparently a familiar only uses your level as its attack bonus. That means no proficiency or ability scores are involved. Familiars will quickly be unable to deliver bad touch spells or escape dangers because of its abysmal modifiers.

*edit* Actually, a familiar wouldn't realistically be able to do that ever; a level 1 character with a familiar will have a +1 to hit around 17-19 AC, and it only gets worse from there.


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Pretty sad that my house cat or parrot friend can't heroically fight off people as tough as me.


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Darkvision+flying+speech can make a pretty interesting scout since they get perception and stealth = to character level + caster ability mod.

Not sure how many offensive touch spells there are for spell delivery. Arcane/Primal 'sting' spells like Spider Sting are touch. No attack roll needed since they are fort saves. Heal is better off using the 2 action version since they are the same number of actions (cast+command or 2 action cast) and you get the bonus 8 healing. Unless the target is 40ft away and the familiar had fast movement.

The bonus low level spell is nice and gaining an extra focus once a day helps many classes that are not low/mid level leaf druids.

Manual dexterity could have a familiar deliver a potion or goodberry or pull a lever or stealth and take something unattended.

I agree they should be able to do 1 damage for an unarmed strike. I guess the developers didn't want to have cats killing commoners any longer.

I guess these are just my thoughts on familiars.

Grand Lodge

Xenocrat, you're associating attack rolls with damage rolls.

A cat can easily chase a person down and bite them. How much damage they realistically do is irrelevant. It could be 0 for all I care. Attack rolls have no actual bearing on the amount of damage they do.

But Dragorine brings up a point that I forgot about- a lot of touch spells no longer actually require an attack roll anymore- my mind was still on 1e rules for that.


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graystone wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
From perusing the Bestiary, I realized that it has no combat capable Tiny animals at all except for swarms.
This means that familiars/tiny animals can't get through any kind of barrier: a rat familiar is physically incapable of chewing through a sheet of paper as it seems it has to gum it's food... :P

They can't do it quickly enough to matter in encounter mode. But if you leave them alone for any long period of exploration time, a GM might reasonably rule that they did escape during that time.


Syries wrote:

Xenocrat, you're associating attack rolls with damage rolls.

A cat can easily chase a person down and bite them. How much damage they realistically do is irrelevant. It could be 0 for all I care. Attack rolls have no actual bearing on the amount of damage they do.

...Why? Like you send your cat to bite someone. OK? They probably just kick your cat and it dies. They might not even have to spend an action to kick your cat; stepping on it while Striding will mess it up just fine. Don't send cats up against people, that is just cruel.

If it is has no mechanical relevance, it probably doesn't need mechanics any more than some random commoner needs weapon proficiency.


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I actually LOVE the design choice of not giving ANY RELEVANT attack option to familiars. Who cares about what happens during exploration/narrative. We are talking abount ENCOUNTER mode here. Combat.

The damage of a parrot or a cat is completely IRRELEVANT.

Love the banhammer on silly sheaningans with familiars.


Syries wrote:

therein lies another issue. Apparently a familiar only uses your level as its attack bonus. That means no proficiency or ability scores are involved. Familiars will quickly be unable to deliver bad touch spells or escape dangers because of its abysmal modifiers.

*edit* Actually, a familiar wouldn't realistically be able to do that ever; a level 1 character with a familiar will have a +1 to hit around 17-19 AC, and it only gets worse from there.

Familiars can't even deliver touch spells well? Why would you ever take that master ability then? Since it does not specify, I would probably allow the spell to be delivered with your modifiers.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Syries wrote:

therein lies another issue. Apparently a familiar only uses your level as its attack bonus. That means no proficiency or ability scores are involved. Familiars will quickly be unable to deliver bad touch spells or escape dangers because of its abysmal modifiers.

*edit* Actually, a familiar wouldn't realistically be able to do that ever; a level 1 character with a familiar will have a +1 to hit around 17-19 AC, and it only gets worse from there.

Familiars can't even deliver touch spells well? Why would you ever take that master ability then? Since it does not specify, I would probably allow the spell to be delivered with your modifiers.

Touch attack rolls don't really seem to be much of a thing anymore. They have mostly been replaced with auto touching saving throws.


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Syries wrote:

therein lies another issue. Apparently a familiar only uses your level as its attack bonus. That means no proficiency or ability scores are involved. Familiars will quickly be unable to deliver bad touch spells or escape dangers because of its abysmal modifiers.

*edit* Actually, a familiar wouldn't realistically be able to do that ever; a level 1 character with a familiar will have a +1 to hit around 17-19 AC, and it only gets worse from there.

Familiars can't even deliver touch spells well? Why would you ever take that master ability then? Since it does not specify, I would probably allow the spell to be delivered with your modifiers.

Spider Sting and Chill Touch are fort saves so don't require a familiar to attack the target. Shocking Grasp is a touch attack that uses the spell attack roll. Personally, as a GM, I'd rule that the spell attack roll from Shocking Grasp use the casters spell attack roll regardless of the delivery method even if it isn't raw. I'm not even sure it is raw that a touch attack delivered by a familiar isn't intended to use that casters spell attack roll anyway. It just says the familiar delivers the spell. I think it's silly for something that is supposed to be beneficial to a caster would make them worse.


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David knott 242 wrote:
graystone wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:
From perusing the Bestiary, I realized that it has no combat capable Tiny animals at all except for swarms.
This means that familiars/tiny animals can't get through any kind of barrier: a rat familiar is physically incapable of chewing through a sheet of paper as it seems it has to gum it's food... :P

They can't do it quickly enough to matter in encounter mode. But if you leave them alone for any long period of exploration time, a GM might reasonably rule that they did escape during that time.

A GM could rule a meteor breaks through the barrier too but both are outside the rules: The thing is, breaking through/destroying things are based on doing damage in the game rules so even if we're talking about exploration time, a familiar needs to be able to deal damage if they are able to get through any barrier. To illustrate, I can dig through a cave wall in exploration time but I need to do enough damage to get trough it's hardness.

"An item can be broken or destroyed if it takes enough damage.": this of course means that you can't destroy or break anything it you are unable to deal damage so from a rules standpoint an infinite amount of time doesn't help a familiar get through a sheet of paper. The only thing that can allow it is handwaveum... On the plus side, this means your familiar is 100% unable to chew on the furniture or rip the shades. :P

Grand Lodge

Agree that for formal “roll for init” encounter mode there is no reason for a familiar to have attacks and it helps balance familiar va companion. Anything flavor-wise you want the familiar to do can use the RAW “bonus equal to your level” on the roll. If you want your animal to be relevant enough in combat that it gets standard attack/damage there are a number of options for that.


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This thread kind of confuses me. It seems to be acting with the supposition that combat familiars that full attacked were some standard part of PF1 gaming that's now missing.

From my experience that wasn't really a thing outside a few very niche builds, most of which revolved around the mauler archetype anyways.

Was there some battle familiar revolution in PF1 I just never picked up on?

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